Bingo! Found the one.
In Austin, looking at homes in person too early will be, quite frankly, pointless. I suggest looking online first to get a feel for what’s on the market and what’s selling quickly or sitting longer. Set up a home search to do this and monitor it daily or even weekly. Be careful which online service you use; Zillow and Trulia don’t always have updated information, and hundreds of real estate agents use it as a lead generation source. Meaning, if you inquire about a home, your phone may start buzzing for a few days.
In recent studies, South Austin homes have, on average, been on the market for 11 days. Therefore, viewing these homes with an agent before you are ready can be a waste of time. If you simply enjoy looking and are curious, check out open houses. Ask your real estate agent for a list of upcoming open houses in your area of interest and hop around one weekend. Make sure you let the agent hosting the open house know that you already have an real estate agent. Many real estate agents hold open houses for lead generation and they may try to win you over as a client. If you let them know ahead of time, it will save you both time and energy.
3 Months In…
When you’re about 3 months from when you need to move into your new home, start getting more serious in your search. Keep in mind, you may need a longer or shorter search period, depending on your situation. You’ll now visit the homes you’re interested in with your agent. They will also send you information on homes that have recently sold in the neighborhood. This way, you’ll have a clear idea of how quickly homes are appreciating in that particular area, and see if the home listed is overpriced by comparison. Your agent should also contact the listing agent and get more information possibly not shared online. This is how your agent can really come in handy and provide inaccessible market information. They can even pull the history of the home, including the last time it was sold, and also explain questions you may have. For example, “Hmm, why was this property listed on the market last month, and then it went pending, and then it came back on the market multiple times. Is this a red flag?”
For quite some time now, Austin has had low inventory. One reason is because of the low level of new housing builds. While recovering from the 2008 recession, most builders were unable to start new developments. Another issue in Austin is getting past the city and their permit hurdles, including restrictions, labor, administration, and costs. Often, this has resulted in a much slower start-to-finish build cycle. Although this may seem like bad news for a buyer, real estate is constantly changing and Austin is seeing more and more new construction popping up everywhere, despite past permit and builder issues.
Finding The One
How many homes should you view before finding “The One”? Consider this: how many dates should you go on before the first kiss? There is no right answer, you will just know. I once showed a couple ONE home, they fell in love, and put an offer on it the next day. Finding what you’re looking for may take less time than you’d think.
Because of the low inventory of homes available, you may find you only look at a few homes before deciding to make an offer. Or, you do the opposite and spend months looking. Whatever your method, don’t let your emotions get in the way of seeing great potential in a home or get too attached when you put in an offer. Looking at homes can be really fun, but, this isn’t HGTV. Reality will hit hard if you over complicate your search, let your emotions take control, or shop before knowing what you can afford. A little education goes a long way!