Tag Archives: Vikki Goodwin

My Tips for Buying a Lot and Building a New Home

Are you thinking about building a new home? For many home buyers, building a new home from the ground up is appealing. Understandably so. You’re able to get what you want rather than live with choices the previous owners made. You have control over paint colors, flooring, energy-efficiency and more. In fact, you’ll be able to have a home that completely reflects your lifestyle.

First off, to ensure a great experience building your dream home. take the time to do your homework.  As a Texas REALTOR®, I want to share the following tips to save you time and money.

Determine Your Budget

Before you purchase land, it’s wise to investigate the cost of building on it. Based on my experience, a good rule of thumb is to plan to spend up to 30 percent of your budget on a lot and 70 percent on your actual home. For example, if your budget is:

  • $500K = You should spend up to $150K or less on the land.
  • $1M = You should spend $300K or less on the land.
  • $1.5M = You should spend $450K or less on the land.

The market conditions, the location of the lot and the school district are among the variables that come in to play in deciding whether a lot is right for you. It’s a good time to buy in Austin because of its current and projected growth. You can find out more about Austin here: Austin Stats

Talk to a Realtor®

Find an experienced REALTOR® that knows the area well. A good REALTOR® knows information about the type of soil you’ll find in different areas of the city, the comparable prices of other homes in the neighborhood and the current market conditions. Moreover, they can be a good resource to help you choose a reliable builder.

Vet Your Builder

People frequently get into trouble because they find out too late that the builder they hired is falling short of what was promised. Even though you may pay more, hiring a builder with a strong reputation and references is worth it. Knowing that your builder is responsive to your questions and concerns goes a long way to alleviating stress. There’s nothing more frustrating than having your calls go unanswered when you need information!

Read what happened to a couple who didn’t vet their builder. Home Building Horror Story

Manage your Expectations

Overall, it’s important to have realistic expectations. Custom homes usually take between 6 months to 18 months to build. Why? Because the lot may require additional site work that’s not apparent until the building begins or suppliers run behind or the weather isn’t cooperating. Not to mention easements, zoning laws, property line restrictions and the architecture guidelines and review processes. Moreover, if you’re building a home with your significant other, don’t understand the amount of stress (and joy) this process may create. Keep the end goal forefront in your mind.

In conclusion building a custom home is limited only by your imagination and your budget. With lots of forethought, you’ll make the process an easy one. I’d like to help! Here are my lots for sale My Lots for Sale – and I can show you many more not listed here.




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Austin’s the “Best Place for Young Adults”

???????????????????Austin is ranked #1 again, this time by The Business Journals, for being the “best place for young adults.”  The ranking is based on things like growth rate (population and job growth), cost of living, and number of employed, educated young adults in the city.  Among the 102 larger cities compared, San Jose came in 2nd and Washington, D.C. came in 3rd.  The growth rate in the Austin area is 3.1% per year, and the private sector job growth has been 1.5% per year since 2007, according to the Business Journals.  The influx of new residents has led to strong growth in the new home construction market.  Some of the new neighborhoods popping up in Austin are:  Vista Verde, Ridgeview, Bridges at Bear Creek, Southpark Meadows, Greyrock Ridge, Avana, Crestview, Versante Canyon, Southbridge Villas, Ravenscroft, Reserve at Lynnbrook, Ledgestone and more.  The Round Rock/Georgetown area is the fastest growing new construction market, though, with Teravista being the neighborhood with the highest volume of new homes being built.  With so much new construction going on, it’s hard to keep up.

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Just How Fast Are Austin Homes Selling? Amazingly Fast!!

Blacksmith kitchenIf you are a home buyer in the Austin area right now, you may be nodding your head, saying to yourself, homes are selling too fast.  Boy, you have to be on your toes ready to act the minute a house goes in MLS in this market.  Sure, some homes stay on the market over a day, but those aren’t the prime homes that most buyers want.  The prime homes – those that are in a great location, are updated and have new roofs and ACs, are priced high but not exhorbitantly high, those are the ones that are selling in 0 days.  That’s right, each and every day in the city of Austin, one house is going under contract the day it gets listed, on average.  According to MLS (and not all houses go in MLS), in the last 60 days (12/21/12-2/19/13), 63 homes went under contract and sold the same day they were entered in MLS (or pre-MLS).  And this is not even prime selling season.  During the same time period, 1370 homes sold.  That’s almost 5% of homes selling the day they go in MLS.  What’s even more surprising, 362 homes sold in one week or less, and that’s equal to 25% of all sales.  Over half the sales during the last 60 days happened after 30 days or less in MLS.  When you get outside the city of Austin, the pace isn’t quite as fast.  Only 3% of metro area sales are on day 1 of MLS listing.

I used to blog about individual houses I would see and like, but the problem is, if I like them, they are already under contract by the time I’d get around to blogging about them!  Besides, with buyers needing to see houses immediately, there isn’t a lot of spare time to blog.  Still, I like to write, so here I am…

In my last blog, I wrote about a house my husband and I have been remodeling at 3004 Blacksmith.  It is now done and you can see how it turned out: http://vt.realtour.biz/?P=116880&T=NOTIDX.  This house is another example of homes selling pre-MLS, and in 30 days or so, it too will show up as a home selling in 0 days.

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August in Austin, a Hot, Hot Place; Real Estate sales going strong despite heat

I suppose packing and unpacking boxes during the hottest part of the summer is no big deal since most of the work is inside in air conditioning, but the process of finding a house in July and August in Central Texas can be a sweaty ordeal (for the Realtor, too)!  Getting in and out of a car that heats up to oven temperature much more quickly than it cools to refrigerator temperature is taxing.  Still, the numbers show that August is a strong month for home sales, even this year.  In fact, there were more sales this August than last.  According to the MLS (which doesn’t include all the new construction sales), 1,842 homes sold this August, and 1,463 homes sold last August, and 1,842 is more than the average monthly sales so far this year.  To give you more perspective, 1,734 homes sold in August of 2009.

So, if you’re wondering how the real estate market is doing, I often say that 2007 was about the height of the market, and this year we are inching back up.  Sales this year to date (Sept. 14) are 13,295.  The chart below shows sales to date from 2007 to now:

Year Home Sales
2011 13,295
2010 13,089
2009 12,846
2008 15,191
2007 18,661

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Garden Homes Sprouting Up in Central Texas

In the past two days, I’ve visited two new garden home communities.  These are very much like condos, except they are detached so residents don’t share any walls.  Lawns are taken care of by the condo association, making it a very low-maintenance lifestyle.  This is what a number of buyers have said they want, and so builders are now developing these types of communities all over Austin and the surrounding areas. 

I visited Spillman Ridge yesterday and was impressed by Ash Creek Homes’ development there at the front of Falcon Head near 620 and Hwy 71.  They have saved some beautiful oak trees, and already have the community pavillion, pool and landscaping in place.  It looks like it will be a wonderful community of all 1-story, energy efficient “green” homes.  The same builder/developer created the Cottages at Lake Creek and Arboretum Park, both completed communities. 

Today I visited Southbridge Villas by MileStone.  There were no homes to see just yet, and the community is still in it’s infancy (infrastructure has not even been completed).  I can’t really evaluate the community since there is so little to see at this point, but I do know they have scraped off every tree from the parcel of land, and the homes will be a little less expensive than the Ash Creek homes.  It is walking distance to the New Flower grocery store as well as the post office (just across the street).  The location off Manchaca just south of Wm Cannon is great for those who want to be fairly close to downtown and not spend an arm and a leg!  Homes will start at $180K and association fees are only $80/month.

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Austin area Real Estate Market-Pulse of 2010

This year I anticipated home sales would be strong in the first half while there was a home buyer tax credit, and weaker in the second half when the tax credit went away.  That turned out to be true.  The number of sales in January through May this year, a total of 8,715 properties, exceeded the number of sales in the same months in 2009, a total of 7,148 properties.  Then, in June this year, sales slowed down, and in July, sales were especially slow.  This July, 1,659 properties sold, as compared to 2,263 last year.  At the end of the year, I expect sales for 2010 to be very similar to the total number of sales in 2009. 

As a result of slowing sales and the still high unemployment numbers, the inventory of resale homes in Austin is higher now than it has been in quite some time.  We have about 7.5 months worth of homes currently on the market in the Austin metro area.  A six month inventory is considered “balanced” and “healthy”. 

What is surprising is the average sales price of $279,100 in July, 2010, which is an all-time high for the Austin area.  What I discovered is that more higher-priced homes have been selling recently as opposed to lower-priced homes, causing the average to be higher than you would expect when sales are down.  For comparison, the average sales price in July, 2009, was $239,200.  As Jumbo loans became available again, and rates improved for those Jumbo loans, more people have purchased homes in the $500K and up range. 

So what are buyers doing right now?  Buyers are still out there looking and moving, but they have no urgency in their actions.  Interest rates are the lowest they’ve ever been, and it’s a buyer’s market, motivating many buyers to go forward with a home purchase.  However, with the larger inventory and with no perceived threat that rates will rise anytime soon, buyers can shop for longer periods of time, waiting for the perfect home.  Those resale homes that have more than a handful of “needs” will probably not sell in this market, unless they are heavily discounted.  At the same time, housing permits in June, 2010, were down 52% from a year earlier, so many buyers are not finding what they want among new construction, either. 

As for sellers, I’ve seen a number of those who don’t have to sell, and didn’t sell during the hot summer months, pull their houses off the market until next year.  Others are putting their houses up for rent.  Listing agents are working hard to create a sense of urgency as soon as they get a whiff of interest from any buyer.  And, if smart, sellers are pre-inspecting their homes and taking care of repairs that might cause a deal to fall apart after inspection.  They are also following the advice of professional stagers in many cases.  And finally, sellers are taking consolation from the fact that while they are selling at the bottom of the market right now, they can also purchase their next home at a lower price and with a lower interest rate, making it all worthwhile.

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Cooperation Among REALTORS® pays off

The Chairman of the Austin Board of REALTORS® recently wrote an article stating that “In our business, it pays to cooperate.”  I couldn’t agree more.  Buying or selling a home is a big life change for our clients, and the best way to make their experience pleasant and as uneventful as possible is to have good communication among all parties.  Since the agents do the communicating between the parties, it’s important to have a high degree of professionalism.  Each transaction has it’s own challenges, and a good REALTOR® can work to find a reasonable solution that pleases all parties. 

I’ve worked with countless agents who have exhibited a high degree of professionalism and courtesy.  I’ve also had experiences with less professional agents, many of whom don’t remain in the industry very long.  As the Chairman states, “we are required to put the needs and interests of our clients above our own.  Working with REALTORS® who are committed to serving their clients can produce a smoother transaction, which may also be less risky.”

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