Buy | Invest | Resources

Austin Investment Hotspots (Fall 2019)

Austin, Texas has been an investor haven for the last two decades or so, with next to endless opportunities to purchase investment properties and rent them out for a profit. With the amount the city has grown in the last few years however, the number of cash flowing properties from the time of purchase has dwindled significantly.

For those willing or able to put a higher down payment (over 20-30%), opportunities are more accessible throughout the city. But for the average investor, the norm is losing a few hundred dollars per month in exchange for having most of the mortgage payment covered as well as anticipating a larger profit margin from home equity when they eventually sell.

The above is a solid strategy for the Austin area, and the most realistic for most homebuyers and investors. For those who really want to buy with 10-20% down and have the entire mortgage payment covered from day one however, there are a few remaining pockets in the Austin area to consider.

1. Round Rock – Multiple Pockets

Of the three on this list, Round Rock currently has the most areas available with potential to yield a positive return. A 3-bedroom, one-story home rents for around $1,575. With a 15% down payment and target purchase price of $220,000, you could earn roughly $100 per month and have your mortgage payment completely covered.

2. Leander – Crystal Falls

Though tax rates are high, Leander has grown rapidly over the last few years with no signs of slowing down. The Crystal Falls area is still heavily under construction from new home builders, and the monthly payment after purchasing many of those homes can be roughly even when marketed for rent. A 3-bedroom, one-story home in this area rents for around $1,750. With a 15% down payment and a target purchase price of $245,000 or less, you’d break just about even and have your mortgage payment completely covered.

3. Bluff Springs – Southpark Meadows

Last on the list is Southpark Meadows, a growing employment hotspot in South Austin. Though opportunities for instant cashflow are incredibly slim, there are still a few homes that pop up from time to time that fit the bill. A 3-bedroom, one-story home in this area rents for around $1,750. With a 15% down payment and target purchase price of $260,000 or less, you could earn roughly $35 per month and have your mortgage payment completely covered.

Please note that the above examples are purely estimates based on today’s mortgage rates and market and are each hypothetical scenarios. If you’re considering purchasing a property in Austin, please contact me! I’m always happy to talk numbers and work with your budget to find an investment strategy that makes sense for you.

I’d love to be your resource for all things real estate, so please reach out any time!

September 25, 2019

Buy | Rent | Resources

6 Must-Do Move In Tasks

Moving into a new place is exciting, especially when purchasing a home. You can finally change the paint colors, hang things wherever you like, and update fixtures, lighting, etc. While these are all important rites of passage, there a few ‘less fun’ tasks that should be on your to-do list.

1. Locate the water shutoff and main circuit panel for your home

Emergencies happen and can be entirely out of your control. It’s a good idea to know how to turn off all the water to your house in case of a plumbing crisis. The shut-off valve is usually located somewhere in the garage, or at street level.

Having an accurately labeled circuit breaker panel can also save you a huge headache if a fuse ever gets blown and you need to reset the electric in all or part of your home. Understanding where these fixtures are located and how to use them before you need to will generally serve you well.

2. Schedule routine pest control

It’s no secret that Texas has plenty of bugs and creatures that love to sneak into homes. Whether this bothers you or not on a principle basis is a personal matter, but from a maintenance standpoint pests should be kept at bay. Luckily, there are several affordable and reputable pest control agencies that can do on-demand or routine treatments to keep your home pest-free. Contact me if you need a referral.

3. Install a water softener

As a whole, Texas has hard water. Simply put, hard water contains a high amount of minerals, usually calcium and/or magnesium. Over time, hard water can wreak havoc on a home’s pipes, leading to potentially huge and expensive repairs.

Hard water can also affect your skin, hair, and health, so there are many reasons to look into purchasing a water softener. These can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars but pale in comparison to the cost of having to re-plumb your home.

4. Check to see if you have gutters

The purpose of gutters is to route water away from a home’s foundation and allow for proper drainage. Failure to have an adequate drainage system can result in the soil around your home eroding and the foundation becoming unstable.

Many homes come with gutters, but not all do. New construction homes in particular often leave this as an add-on for the homeowner to address after closing. Check to see if your house has gutters. If it does not, look into having them installed to protect your foundation. Once you do have gutters, be sure to keep them free of leaves and debris.

5. Make a list of an emergency plumber, handyman, and HVAC technician

A 3am emergency is not the time that anyone wants to be researching who to call to fix a leaking faucet or broken A/C unit in the middle of July. Contact me for some quality referrals or take some time to do a bit of research on who your go-to emergency repair contacts are. Ask important questions like how long wait times generally are, and what the costs are for basic services or inspections. You’ll thank yourself later!

6. Find out what size air filter you need and schedule regular changes

Air filters are an item that I see many clients forget about both when renting and buying homes. In either scenario, you’ll want to change the filter every 1-3 months. Air filters are inexpensive but do a very important job of cleaning the air that circulates through your home by filtering out things like dirt, dust, and pollen.

Not changing your filter regularly can result in higher electricity bills, slower heating and cooling times, growth of mold or bacteria, and damage to your HVAC unit. For a simple solution, use a program like Second Nature to get deliveries to your door whenever it’s time to change the filter.

Preventative maintenance for a home can go a long way. If you have any questions about buying or settling into a new place, please reach out!

August 22, 2019

Buy | Invest | Resources

‘Hacking’ Home Equity in Austin, TX

The Austin real estate market isn’t slowing down. Both home prices and rent hikes are on the continual rise, incentivizing more and more renters to buy their first place. Buying into a real estate market while prices are rising opens the opportunity to gain equity in a home relatively quickly. This means a higher profit for you when you eventually sell.

In addition to rising prices, Austin is also in an inventory shortage. This means that the demand for new homes is very high, which is bringing more home builders into the city. The inventory shortage and influx of builders has created a unique opportunity to ‘hack’ some extra home equity.

Six #homespacehomebuyers are currently under contract doing just this, and I’d love to help more of you do the same!

Here’s how it works:

Instead of buying an existing home, talk to me about purchasing a brand new house in one of the new home communities currently going up in Austin. The big advantage of this is that a new home takes 6-8 months to build.

Why is this a good thing? Because the purchase price for the home is locked in at the time of contract. This means that for 6-8 months you can be ‘collecting equity’ as the market appreciates, yet you don’t pay anything other than earnest money on the home until you close on it.

The reality for several of my clients is that by the time closing date rolls around, they’re moving into a brand new home with a few thousand dollars of equity already in their pocket.

Of course, this isn’t the right move for everyone. If you’re locked in on a certain location that doesn’t have much new construction or want to live in a non-HOA neighborhood, traditional home sales are still the way to go. But for those who have some flexibility on location, it’s definitely worth looking into.

I’d love to be your resource on all things real estate, so please reach out any time!

July 24, 2019

Buy | Rent | Resources

Does it cost more to Rent or Buy in Austin, TX?

The rent vs buy debate is common in Austin, TX. With almost 52% of Austin residents renting, it’s easy to see why. The truth is, there’s a fair argument for both renting and buying, and the answer varies depending on how long you plan to do either. 

Let’s take a look at a cost breakdown for rent vs buy over 5 years for an Austinite. We’re going to assume ‘Robert Resident’ wants to live in a modest 2 bedroom apartment if renting, or a 3 bedroom single family home if buying.

First, let’s keep it simple and just look at the dollar for dollar costs over 5 years. The average rent increase in Austin is 4% each year, which is what the ‘rent payment’ column is based on. For the ‘mortgage payment’ column, let’s assume Robert buys a $250,000 home and puts 5% as a down payment. His all-in monthly payment would be around $1913 every month on a 30-year mortgage.

As you can see, for years 1-4, Robert does save some money by renting (though the savings is negligible by year 4). On years 5 – 30 however, Robert saves more money by owning his home because he avoids any rent increases.

Next let’s take a look at all the other costs involved in a home purchase, along with tax and equity savings over 5 years.

After looking at this chart, you’ll see that over 5 years, though the costs aren’t too far off, they do slightly favor the renter up until the last two rows, time and equity. Let’s take a look at the two biggest factors that tilt the scales towards buying.

1. Equity buildup. Austin has been appreciating an average of 7% over the last 5 years. I used a 5% appreciation number for this example to more closely reflect the national average in case of market changes. After 5 years of owning his home, Robert will have ‘earned’ roughly $62,000, while he’ll have $0 if he chooses to rent. This is one of the biggest upsides to homeownership.

2. PMI Dropoff. If Robert chooses to buy, he’s only planning to put 5% as a down payment. The downside to this is he’ll carry a fee called ‘private mortgage insurance (PMI)’ for the first few years of his loan. This fee is factored into the $1913 monthly payment. Once Robert reaches 20% equity in his home, the PMI charge will fall off and his monthly payment will decrease by about $100 a month for the rest of the 30 years. in this example, Robert already has over 20% equity in his home by year 5. The remaining years of his mortgage will have a payment closer to $1,800, which is only $100 more per month than the initial rent payment.

The Bottom Line
Renting or buying is a personal decision and there are certainly other factors that play into it besides money. If you’re planning to stay in the Austin area for a while and are still renting, let’s grab a coffee and see if it makes sense for you to continue to rent, or think about taking the leap to home ownership.

I’d love to be your resource for all things real estate, so please reach out any time!

May 17, 2019

Buy | Invest | Resources | Sell

Flood Changes in Austin, TX

Ever heard of Atlas 14? Probably not, but you might this fall.

Due to the increased frequency of heavy rains, storms, and flooding in the Austin area, a study called Atlas 14 was conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Atlas-14 shows a roughly 33% increase in the amount of rain that could fall in Austin within a 24-hour period. As a result, properties in close proximity to the city’s creeks are exposed to greater flood risks.

What does this mean for Austin residents?

In October, the City Council will vote on whether to implement Atlas 14’s recommendation to redraw the flood maps for Austin.

If approved, homeowners who currently own property located in a 500-year floodplain may be re-zoned to a 100-year floodplain, those in a 100-year may be re-zoned to a 25-year, and those not in a floodplain could enter one.

Flood plains are determined by the likelihood that a storm with high rainfall intensity could happen in any given year. A 25-year storm has a 4% chance of occurring each year; a 100-year storm has a 1% chance of occurring, and a 500-year storm has a 0.2% chance.

If your home is rezoned to fall in a 100-year or 25-year floodplain, your insurance provider will likely be contacting you to require that you add flood insurance to your home insurance policy. If your home is not currently in a floodplain but is rezoned to fall in one, you may want to consider purchasing flood insurance voluntarily, just to be on the safe side.

How to check if your home could be affected by rezoning:

  1. Visit this website and click the “I want to” button, followed by “explore Atlas 14 changes”
  2. Learn more by reading this article by Austin’s Community Impact magazine
  3. Read more here on austintexas.gov

 

I’d love to be your resource for all things real estate, so please contact me any time!

April 29, 2019

Buy | Invest | Resources

New Community Alert: Manor, TX

Every now and then I preview a home for a client and think, ‘wow, this place is amazing’.

With investors large and small pouring capital into Austin’s real estate market, homebuyers are getting an increasing number of unique neighborhoods to choose from when buying a home. However, the number of affordable homes is decreasing within the city limits as Austin adds more jobs and attracts more newcomers.

The most common request I receive for housing is to find something updated, with a yard, and within a 20-minute commute to work.

While I can provide options within Austin that fit the bill, many of them carry a high price tag. Cue Manor, TX, a new site for home ownership that I like to call the “20-minute city”.

On a map Manor doesn’t look close to much, but the drive time (during peak and off time traffic) is around 20 minutes to or from almost anywhere in Austin.

A few key considerations to put Manor on your home buying and investment radar:

• Single-family homes from the mid $200’s to the mid $400’s
• Convenient access to Parmer Ln, 290, and 130
Average commute to most employers is 20 minutes
• Brand new elementary, middle and high schools
Proposed metro line heading directly to downtown Austin
• Home values have increased 11% year over year since 2016
• New home build timelines allow for equity to grow before you move in

I’d love to be your resource on all things real estate, so please contact me if you have questions or would like a tour!

March 17, 2019

Buy | Invest | Resources

Home Insurance vs Home Warranty: Do You Need Both?

Owning a home is one of the greatest investments you can make, so protecting your investment should be a top priority. A great way to do this is to get home insurance and a home warranty. Understanding the difference between the two can be tricky, so here’s a quick breakdown.

Home Insurance

Home insurance is almost always required by whichever lender or mortgage company works on your loan. Home insurance policies renew yearly, and the average annual cost in Austin is around $750-1300. Buyers usually pay this cost with the rest of their mortgage payment on a monthly basis.

The big things that home insurance covers are accidental damage to your home due to theft, fire, storms, and some natural disasters. Flood protection is a separate insurance policy, so be sure to look into that if you live in a flood-prone area.

If one of the above scenarios were to occur, you could call your home insurance company, file a claim, and once the claim is approved they’d cover all repair expenses after your deductible. When shopping for policies keep in mind that the higher your deductible is, the lower your monthly policy cost will be and vice versa.

Home Warranty

While home insurance insures your home in the event of an accidental event, a home warranty will insure the systems and appliances in your home from age and general wear/tear. 

Home warranties are completely optional, and generally start around $500 per year. If something goes wrong with your HVAC, plumbing, electrical, dishwasher, washer/dryer, etc. you can call your home warranty company to come repair it or replace it for a flat service fee.

Home warranty plans are highly customizable, so you can pick and choose what you’d like to have covered. Having a home warranty helps twofold; it can save you a ton of money if something breaks unexpectedly, and can take the hassle out of having to find a contractor to make repairs.

As you can see, home insurance and home warranties are both important and serve different purposes. When you’re making an investment as big as a home purchase, it just makes sense to protect it. For more information on buying a home in the Austin area, click here.

February 18, 2019

Buy | Resources

How to Save Money on Taxes with a Homestead Exemption

As we get closer to tax season, Homestead exemptions are a great way to reduce your taxable income, and provide limits to how much your property taxes can increase each year.

If you bought a house in 2018, make sure to file a homestead exemption by April 30th. 

A homestead exemption removes a portion of your home’s value from taxation and limits the increase of your property taxes. It only has to be filed one time. You are eligible to file if you bought a home in 2018 or prior, and it is your primary residence.

Before you file, your driver’s license must be up to date with your new home’s address.

For homes purchased in TRAVIS COUNTY:

  • E-file online here
  • You will need an Owner ID and PIN, which you can get by emailing CSinfo@tcadcentral.org or calling 512-834-9317.
For homes purchased in WILLIAMSON COUNTY:

  • E-file online here
  • Call 512.930.3787 with questions or use the chatbox on their site

**There is no fee to file a Homestead Exemption** 


Congrats to all the new homeowners last year! If you have upcoming lease expiration, please give me a call or email to talk about your buying options. I’d lvoe to be your resource for all things real estate, so please reach out with questions any time!

January 10, 2019

Buy | Resources | Sell

Interest Rates are Rising – What it Means for You

If you’re someone who reads the paper or watches the news, you’ve probably heard about Fed hikes and interest rates. If those terms don’t ring a bell, no worries! Here’s what you need to know:

1. The Federal Reserve raised interest rates at the end of September for the third time this year.

2. As a result of the rate hike, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate jumped to 4.88%, the highest it’s been since 2011.

3. Interest rates are still historically low, but those looking to buy should think about locking in a rate soon. Financial institutions are predicting rates of 5% or higher by the end of 2019.

4. Rising interest rates means sellers may need to adjust their expectations on sale prices as buyer’s budgets decrease to compensate.

If you have questions on buying or selling a home, how interest rates affect you, or want to learn more about housing in Austin, please reach out!

October 18, 2018

Buy | Rent | Resources

How Much House Can You Afford?

If you’re paying more than $1,600 for rent in Austin, you can probably afford a mortgage on a house. The question then is; exactly how much house can you afford?

If you’re buying a home in cash, the answer to this question is simple: how much cash do you have? That’s how much house you can afford. However, if you’re like most American homeowners who get a home mortgage, your affordability is largely based on your DTI, or debt to income ratio.

Lenders use the formula below to make sure that the loan you say you want is a loan you can actually pay back every month.

All monthly debt payments ÷  gross monthly income = DTI ratio

Here’s how to calculate your own DTI to find out how much home you can afford:

Step 1: Add up your monthly expenses, including:

• Your monthly rent or mortgage payment
• Monthly student loan and auto loan payments
• Any other monthly loan or financed payments
• Minimum monthly credit card payment
• Alimony or child support

There may be additional debts that your lender will include, but these are the basics.

For example: Let’s say Bob Buyer rents a place for $1,500 per month, pays $250 towards his student loans each month, owns his car outright ($0) and has two credit cards that he pays off each month, but both have a $25 minimum payment. His total monthly debt equals $1,800.

Step 2: Divide your total monthly debt by your total gross monthly income (income before taxes).

The result should be a decimal or percentage, which represents your debt to income ratio.

In our example, pretend that Bob Buyer brings in $5,500 per month in pre-tax income. When we divide his monthly debt of $1,800 by his monthly income of $5,500, we get a debt to income ratio of 0.32, or 32%.

Generally, the max DTI allowed is ~45% 

Once you have your current DTI figured out, you can plug in different numbers for your hypothetical monthly mortgage amount to see the max you could pay each month while staying under 45% DTI. From there use an app like this one to see how that monthly payment translates to a purchase price.

To learn more about buying a home, contact us!

September 8, 2018