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WELCOME, WELCOME, WELCOME

Hello there, you!

You’ve landed at my blog, either by intent or accident — and I’m happy to have you!

I started this blog as sort of a catch-all spot to post all kinds of random stuff I’d like to pass along, most of it pertaining to Austin real estate (my own business in particular or market info in general) or interesting/funny tidbits about Austin … or gardening tips, home decor/design ideas, places you should check out, coming events, notes about the weather, or pictures from in and around Austin I happen to like.

Like this one, which I took outside the Palmer Events Center on a sunny fall day a few weeks ago:

emma-long-ctr

Or this one, of the Beautiful Brandeen (my son’s dog) playing at Bull Creek Park (Austin being a very pet-friendly city):

brandy-at-bull-creek

If you’re interested in browsing listings available for purchase or lease, please click on the SEARCH AUSTIN AREA HOMES FOR SALE link here or on the sidebar.

If you’d like to talk about purchasing a home (for your primary residence or as an investment property), new home construction, listing your home for sale or just finding out what your home is worth, I’d be delighted to chat with you.  Or if you’re interested in getting intermittent email updates from me (no spamming, I promise), please click on the SIGN UP FOR EMAIL UPDATES link.

I always post the latest Austin real estate market stats on my About Real Estate page if you just want to have a quick look.

You can also check out my Facebook page by clicking that link in the sidebar (and don’t be shy about hitting that LIKE button once you get there — it makes me feel good)!

And finally, following my blog by clicking on the link labeled Follow Adventures in Austin Real Estate is always encouraged.  That way you never have to worry about any missing any morsel of wit or wisdom I might drop.

Sunshine & Graffiti
Austin: Keeping it real, keeping it weird at the Hope Outdoor Gallery

Please feel free to leave me your comments or questions or, even better, reach out to me if you’d like to chat about real estate.  My contact info is ALL OVER this site!

In the mean time, like the unknown artist at Austin’s graffiti wall says above, “Just keep swimming. One day you’ll be in your ocean.” 

I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I’m sure it’s profound.

It’s Bats, Man!

Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na…

This has been an incredible last few days for witnessing awe-inspiring natural phenomena for your friendly neighborhood Realtor here.  Although Monday’s solar eclipse was both far bigger and way more rare an occurrence, Tuesday night I finally got to experience firsthand one of our local marvels — the emergence of Austin’s bat colony for their evening feeding!

Bats emerging from under the South Congress Bridge – August 22, 2017

For those unaware, Austin is home to the largest urban bat colony in North America.  While we actually have several colonies around the Austin area, the most famous is the one living under the South Congress Bridge, and the best views are to be had on a bat cruise, which is how I got to experience it. (Shout outs to Premier Nationwide Lending and Capital Cruises for providing us a wonderful evening of tasty eats, adult beverages and amazing bat watching!)

Click here if you’d like to read a little more about our local bats and where and when to best see them; otherwise, I’ll just let the video below speak for itself.  (Note, you don’t really need sound for the video.  You’ll mostly hear a lot of Realtors and lenders exclaiming in awe — surprisingly, the bats themselves are pretty much silent!)

Amazing, no?  If you’re looking for a cool experience to share with visitors, or if you’re a local like me who has never done it before (WHY did I wait SO LONG?!) I can’t recommend an Austin bat boat tour highly enough!  It really is incredible.

 

Mid-Century Modern in Austin

A rare gem designed by Austin architect and builder, A.D. Stenger

On a property tour this week I had the uncommon opportunity check out an absolutely stunning, mid-century modern home designed by famed local architect and builder, A.D. Stenger.  Although each one of the 100 or so homes built by Stenger from the 1940s to 1990s was unique, they share a few common characteristics in addition to their simple, modern lines, such as low pitch gable roofs, the use of clerestory windows and expansive stonework both inside and out.

2302 Rundell Place

Stenger homes are mainly found in the Austin neighborhoods of Rollingwood, Zilker and Barton Hills.  Because they were built in some of the most prized (and expensive) areas for Austin real estate, many have been torn down over the years by folks looking to build larger, more contemporary and/or functional homes, though this has led to conflicts with the city’s Historic Landmark Commission.  (Not to mention earning the ire of Stenger enthusiasts; Stenger homes enjoy an almost cult-like following among Austin architecture buffs, and with good reason!)

With only a few dozen or so of them left standing, these homes don’t often come on the market — so when they do it tends to make kind of a splash.  The one I toured this week was just listed by one of our top agents and sales manager, Dorothy Palmore.  It has been thoroughly and thoughtfully renovated very much in keeping with its mid-century modern aesthetic, but with contemporary conveniences and design touches added.  It’s listed at a cool $1.5 million, and to my eye worth every penny — it’s out-and-out gorgeous!

Although I only had my iPhone camera with me and my limited photography skills, I think this home’s unique beauty and style still shines through:

Stenger home hallmarks: fireplace and rock wall, with clerestory windows
Bringing outside in — notice how the rock wall continues from exterior to interior?

Although not original to the home, I love the dining room light fixture and the cool pattern it casts on the ceiling:

Another stylish lighting fixture in the bright and airy kitchen, and more clerestory windows:

High ceilings and clean lines, and awesome marble counters with waterfall edge

In the center of the home is a private zen-like atrium, open to the live oak trees above.

Tranquility abounds

Or if you’re feeling more like entertaining than meditating, the home features a wet bar nestled in between the kitchen and living room:

This property really is sublime.  If you’d like more information about it or to schedule a showing, please contact Dorothy Palmore at 512-925-0045.

To Inspect or Not to Inspect

Why is this even a question?

I’ve always thought buyer’s inspections were kind of a no-brainer when it comes to purchasing a home.  If I’m dropping a quarter of a million dollars (or much, much more) on something, you better believe I’m gonna want to have someone who knows what to look for give it a good going-over before I commit to paying for it for the next 30 years!  I mean, it’s not like you can just browse through Amazon Reviews to get the lowdown on your potential new house — only a trained professional can provide a comprehensive picture of the home’s overall condition.

So I was quite surprised to find, when reading the comments section of a recent online real estate magazine article on this very topic, that so many Realtors seem to disagree, or are at least on the fence about whether or not to encourage buyers to get an inspection.  As I’m reading the negative comments I’m shaking my head and thinking, are you nuts!?

First of all, yes I know: if you want to keep your faith in humankind NEVER READ THE COMMENTS!  Having already broken that golden rule, however, my curiosity was piqued.  I decided I should conduct my own small, informal survey of other real estate agents to get their thoughts on the subject.

Now let me backtrack a moment, for anyone unfamiliar with the home buying/home inspection process:

When we write an offer to purchase a home, it’s common practice to include an option period (generally 5 – 10 days) for which a buyer will pay a nominal fee (like $100, say) and which gives them the unrestricted right to terminate the contract for any reason without losing their earnest money deposit (which will probably be several thousand dollars, depending on the price of the home).  And this option period is used, in most cases, to hire an inspector to come out and go over the house very carefully, making sure buyers know exactly what they’re getting before buying.

The inspector will check out the the electrical and plumbing systems, the HVAC and any appliances that will convey with the home, like the stove and the dishwasher.  They will look at the water heater, check out the condition of the roof, measure attic insulation levels, look for any evidence of foundation troubles or wood-destroying insect activity.  They will make sure windows and doors latch properly and check all the home’s safety features like smoke detectors and stair rails. Outside, the inspector will check out how sprinkler systems and garage doors are functioning, as well as make note of any tree limbs brushing the roof (which can lead to damage/displacement of shingles) or vegetation growing too close to the foundation (which can trap moisture and lead to erosion).

While sellers are legally required to disclose to buyers any of the home’s known defects or anything which might negatively impact its value, oftentimes they are unaware of their home’s flaws.  For instance, I can’t say I have EVER crawled out on my roof to make sure all the shingles are intact; I just assume they are.  Or if a seller listed their home for sale during our scorching central Texas summer, would they know their heating system was malfunctioning, or would that fact only be discovered by the new buyers the following January?

You can see why having this information is key, especially if this is the buyer’s first home where they might not necessarily know what kinds of things to look for themselves, or in an older home which is prone to age-related defects like we all are.

So why would a real estate agent, especially one representing the buyers, not encourage them to get an inspection?

What I gathered from my little survey was that it really comes down to the quality of the inspector themselves, and to what they uncover.  While some agents complained that inspectors overlooked obvious defects in the home which then caused big problems when they were later discovered, a far more common complaint was the reverse: the inspector uncovered too many little, inconsequential flaws (their words, not mine) which then jeopardized the sale by scaring off the buyers, or inciting them to present a massive list of demands for seller repairs or giving them apparent grounds to renegotiate the sales price.

And this is where Realtors can help by setting proper expectations up front with buyers with regard to what they can and should be looking for in a home inspection.  Yes, inspectors will (and should) disclose even minor defects, like interior doors that stick or bathroom faucets in need of re-caulking, but agents need to work with buyers in understanding that just because a small flaw exists doesn’t mean it needs to be addressed prior to the sale.

I encourage my buyers to focus on big ticket items or safety risks and not to get bogged down with minor defects.  I remind them that the purpose of the inspection is to make sure the home they are considering is solid and safe to live in.  I try to convey that the things to ask a seller to repair need to be reasonable.  Or if a seller has indicated they don’t wish to make any repairs, that they be reasonable in making a financial allowance to the buyers so that they may have it repaired after the sale.  I try to appeal to everybody’s sense of decency and fairness, and remind them (if need be) that we are all working toward the same goal, which is the sale of a particular home!  The inspector just provides the information needed so we can all work together to accomplish this.

Don’t shoot the messenger, you know? 🙂

 

Setting Records

Is this another housing bubble?

In case you don’t happen to be regularly clicking on my About Real Estate page for market updates (or my Facebook page, or otherwise following along), I’m re-posting this EYE-POPPING headline I put up earlier from the most recent Central Texas Housing Market Report put out by the Austin Board of Realtors: in May we reached an ALL-TIME HIGH of $1.2 BILLION (yep, you read that correctly — that’s Billion with a big, fat B) in home sales!

From the report:

“Coupled with rising home prices, this recent surge in home sales activity made May 2017 the highest-grossing month for Central Texas real estate in the region’s history. For the first time this year, single-family home sales dollar volume topped $1 billion ($1,234,217,617) in a single month within the five-county area, which is an increase of 18.4 percent from May 2016.”

(And this figure excludes most new home construction, which is similarly experiencing phenomenal growth.   New home construction in Austin is at its highest level since 2007.)

This is obviously very exciting news for sellers.  But on the flip side, this trend may be prompting you to ask a very reasonable question:  Is this another real estate bubble which might burst in spectacularly messy fashion?  We all remember what the country went through less than a decade ago when that housing bubble burst.

So is this another bubble?

The short answer, in my humble opinion, is no.  Or at least not in the way it was in 2008-2010; it’s not a bubble created by a whole host of factors which created an artificial inflation of the market, as was the case back then.

The longer answer should include what is a driving force for this increase: job growth.  (Or as my broker like to say: Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!)  Austin’s current job growth rate of 2.9% puts us in place as the 10th fastest growing major metro area in the country.

As reported in the Austin Jobs Postings Report for May, unemployment is at 3.2% (nationwide we are at 4.3%) and more jobs are coming; several companies have announced expansion plans in the area.  To quote from the report:

“The U.S. News & World Report named Austin as the “Best Place to Live in the U.S.” in 2017.  Savills calls Austin “one of the 22 Cities at the Forefront of Global Tech” while SmartAsset named Austin as one of the “10 Best Cities to Raise a Family”.  Austin also comes in 3rd on Gallups’ “Good Jobs Rate” ranking based on the percentage of adults who work for an employer full-time.  Indeed ranked Austin No. 4 on its “25 Best Cities for Job Seekers” list.”

Dang — if I didn’t already live here I’d definitely want to move to Austin after reading all that!

So to sum it all up: with great livability, high consumer confidence, low unemployment, solid job growth and considerable planned expansion coming to the area, I’d say it’s likely that our housing market will remain strong for the foreseeable future. (Barring any big national economic crash, anyway — OH NO, I hope I didn’t just jinx us!) 😉

And finally, to any buyers sitting on the fence I’d say, “Come on in — the  water’s fine!”

 

Bragging Rights

“It’s not bragging if you can back it up.” — Muhammad Ali

I know I’ve mentioned more than once how much I love the company I work for — JB Goodwin Realtors — and just how AWESOME we are.

And I also do recall learning, from about kindergarten on, that it’s not good manners to brag.  Which is technically true, but in the immortal words of Muhammad Ali:  “It ain’t bragging if you can back it up!”

While the Austin real estate market has slowed down a little recently, industry-wide we are still up 4% year-to-date in units sold from this time last year.  Which is not bad at all… until you learn that JB Goodwin agents are actually up 9%!

Whaaaat?!

Yep, it’s true.  We have increased more than twice what our counterparts have done so far in 2017.  Which makes us WINNERS.  Winner winner chicken dinner even! (Because I’m actually 8 years old.) 🙂  JB Goodwin agents are out there KILLING IT on a daily basis!

Another notable bragging point for JB Goodwin Realtors: the Austin Business Journal has released their 2017 list of nominees for Austin’s Best Places to Work — which we WON last year, because of our AWESOMENESS!! — and we are AGAIN in the running for the top spot!  (The winners will be announced June 23rd, so expect me to circle back around on this.)

Also, check out our Google Reviews.  Not for nothing, but we’ve got a 4.9 star rating — out of 5!  So much awesome.

Alright, lest Mrs. Godfrey be tempted to return from the grave and smack my knuckles with her lightning-fast ruler for my boastful nature (as she was wont to do during my second grade year) I’ll button that up now and close with my second favorite Muhammad Ali quote:

“If you even DREAM of beating me, you’d better wake up and apologize!”

That has NOTHING to do with this post, I am just really tickled by that quote.

Cheers, y’all! 🙂

What to do? What to Do?

I don’t want to hear anybody saying they’ve got nothing to do this weekend

Our Austin events calendar is usually pretty full — let’s face it: Austin is a VERY happenin’ city — but this weekend seems particularly packed with all kinds of cools goings-on.  Enough to warrant a post in my little blog, at least.

Presented without prejudice and in no particular order, here’s what’s going down this weekend in the ATX:

Eeyore’s Birthday — No, not exactly a kids’ event, though there’s a little something for everybody (and it’s decidedly Austin-weird).

Austin Bookstore Crawl — Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day in style!

Beast of the East Backyard BBQ Cook Off —   The name says it all.

Austin Food & Wine Festival — Food, wine, sunshine.*  What else do you need?  (*Okay, the sunshine might not happen.  Best two out of three.)

Annual Dragon Boat Festival & Races — A family-friendly event, with music and dance performances, martial arts demonstrations, Taiko Drums, Lion Dance and a Kids’ Zone with special activities for children.  All that, plus dragon boat races on Lady Bird Lake!

National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day — Barkworthie’s Chews Rescue program will be funding adoptions for all eligible dogs this weekend through Austin Pets Alive.

Jazz & Art on Main — This event in Cedar Park features arts & crafts, live music & tasty eats.

Vintage Market Days of Austin-Hill Country –  A vintage inspired open-air market in Dripping Springs featuring original art, antiques, clothing, jewelry, handmade treasures, seasonal plantings and more tasty eats.

Mommy, Daddy & Me Book Club — Featuring children’s book author Yolanda King, this book club encourages children to read with their parents.

The Grease & La La Land Double Feature Sing Along — Double feature movies, music & singing at the Blue Starlight Drive-In — what could be more fun than that?

Daniel Tosh — The star of Comedy Central’s Tosh.0 is appearing at the Frank Erwin Center.

Now, I don’t want to hear anybody saying they’ve got nothing to do this weekend!  Even if the weather is looking kinda iffy…  🙂

Have fun out there, y’all, and be safe!