We take pride in our homes. For most of us, our home is our largest physical and financial asset. It's where we spend time with friends and family, where we may go for peace and quiet, and where we spend a lot of our hard-earned money. It is much more than shelter, more than a residence. It is "our place," with all the physical, mental, and emotional ties that implies.
Investment real estate shouldn't carry the emotional attachments of a home, but it can be a critical source of income and financial growth. Financial assets -- stocks, bonds, etc. -- are an important foundation for many investors. Real estate can provide more stability, current income, and predictable long-term growth.
I represent both buyers and sellers of residential and investment real estate throughout the Austin metropolitan area, which means first-hand market knowledge is brought to bear on serving your needs:
My relationship with a home seller begins with a thorough understanding of the client's objectives, needs, and timing. My ongoing analysis of properties and market areas throughout Central Texas provides the basis for a comprehensive analysis of each client's home. Price consultation, property preparation and staging, and broad promotion of each property follow, and frequent communication -- showing feedback, market updates, and ongoing advice and counsel -- round out a successful listing engagement. As a starting point, just ask me for a FREE Market Analysis. That may answer your immediate questions, or it could become the basis of a more comprehensive discussion. That choice is yours.
My approach to buyer representation is also full service – shopping, previewing, price and market consultation, contracting, negotiating, coordination of inspections, appraisals, repairs, and closing details, and follow-up beyond the closing of your purchase to ensure your lasting satisfaction. Looking for a new home? Use Quick Search or Map Search to browse an up-to-date database of all available properties in the area, or use my Dream Home Finder form and I'll conduct a personalized search for you.
In both roles, honest advice and clear communication are what my clients expect. The fact that more than 90% of my business is with repeat clients and their referred friends and family is a sign of success in meeting those expectations. Client ratings that earned my selection for 6 consecutive years as a Five Star Professional -- representing less than 7% of Central Texas agents -- are also very gratifying, and humbling.
As you consider selling or buying Central Texas real estate, you'll find a lot of information on this website that can help. Much of it is updated regularly, so come back often:
National and regional Market Trends is a thorough monthly e-newsletter you'll enjoy.
The Five Star Professional network provides weekly market data that is compiled to provide this Heat Index comparison of market conditions. As I have noted in recent posts (see Market growth continues), there are signs that the market cycle may be maturing, but we’re still solidly in Seller’s Market territory and hotter than the national market:
Since mortgage interest rates fell in 2008 and 2009, many prospective home buyers have come to consider rates in the 3.5% to 4% range “normal.” There were many rumors that rates were about to shoot upward again, and I certainly told many clients that “rates can’t stay this low forever.” It turns out that mortgage rates have begun inching upward, but frequent press reports about the Federal Reserve Board raising interest rates can cause confusion among concerned mortgage borrowers who don’t understand that the Fed has no direct control in the mortgage market, and that in fact mortgage rates really don’t consistently follow the rates that the Fed does control. With that in mind, I feel to need to recall a couple of previous posts.
Almost three years ago I wrote All the talk about interest rates …, commenting on the lack of a relationship between the Federal Funds Rate and short-term bonds, and mortgage interest rates. Although I have not extended the relevant graph today, the post itself is still appropriate now. If you want to forecast mortgage rates, read forecasts for the 10-year T-bill. (And of course, be informed about real estate market health and outlook. That’s why I have maintained and written about my market dashboard for almost 10 years. Just search “dashboard” on this site.)
Earlier this year I posted Interest Rates Rise and expressed my belief that we would finally see rising rates this year. Today, I still believe that will see slowly rising rates over the next couple of years. (We will also see rates fall back along the way, and then rise a little more.)
My crystal ball gets foggy farther into the future, but I wanted to remind readers that the sky isn’t falling, and that what the Fed does has little to do with it.
Although the Austin area has been in drought for much of the past 10 years, if you have been around Austin for a while, you know that floods also feature prominently in our history. The Memorial Day Flood of 2015 was especially memorable, but there have been many more. Were you here for the Memorial Day Flood of 1981? That one led to major changes in the city, especially along Shoal Creek and South Lamar, but all of Austin was affected. Going back even further there were many more.
You also undoubtedly know that the Austin area has been growing fast for many years. As the Austin Chronicle noted in 2017, As Austin Grows, So Does the Risk of Flood. More people, more buildings, and more impervious cover combine to raise the risk of flooding.
Compounding that increased risk, based on a study by the National Weather Service, the likelihood of heavier rain is higher now than in the past. The historical definition of a 100-year storm was a little more than 10 inches of rain in 24 hours. That means that each year there is a 1% chance of that kind of rain event. The new study indicates that there is now a 1% chance each year of 13 inches or more rain falling in 24 hours. (That has been the definition of a 500-year storm.) The revised 25-year floodplain will also expand in some areas, taking on properties that are now in the 100-year floodplain.
So … with the combination of growth and more rain the City of Austin is reassessing local flood maps. Obviously, the most severe changes will be along and near existing flood zones, and the number of structures that are in officially flood-prone areas will increase from about 4,000 now to 7,200 on the new maps. In many cases, properties that have been in the 500-year floodplain will be reassigned to the 100-year floodplain, and structures in the 100-year floodplain will now be in the 25-year floodplain. This is really dramatic change! Until the maps can be completely redrawn, City code will be modified to restrict what property owners in the 500-year floodplain can do with their properties, effectively moving them immediately into the 100-year floodplain. For more on this and to find out if your property is affected, see Flood Risk and Atlas 14.
Note that updating local flood maps won’t directly or immediately change FEMA flood maps, but there can’t be any doubt that those maps will change as well. That means that more property owners with mortgages will be required to carry flood insurance. Not only does that add expense to property ownership, but it will likely affect resale values and even sale-ability. That’s another topic for another day, but don’t underestimate its importance!
Over the past couple of years, the Austin Board of REALTORS®, the Texas Association of REALTORS®, and the National Association of REALTORS® have all be working to get the National Flood Insurance Program reauthorized by Congress. There have been short-term extensions, but the latest one expires in November 2018. We have argued that more sophisticated maps are necessary and that premiums should more accurately reflect insured risks, along with more changes to make the program financially sustainable. It is an extremely important program, however, and reauthorization needs to be done. For more information on that see this article about the National Flood Insurance Program from the National Association of REALTORS®.