Buy | Invest | Resources | Sell

How to Protest Property Taxes in Williamson County, Texas

Spring in Williamson County marks the start of property tax season. If you own property that has increased in market value by at least $1,000 in the last year, you should receive a Notice of Appraised Value from the Williamson County Appraisal District. Halfway down the notice are two numbers; assessed value for last year and proposed assessed value for the current year. Your annual property tax amount owed going forward is based on these numbers.

If you did not receive a Notice of Appraised Value via mail, you can look yours up online by using the official Williamson County Property Search tool

What’s the Difference Between Tax-Assessed Value and Market Value?

Tax-assessed value is what the county determines your property to be worth. Market value is how much an average buyer would pay for your home if it were for sale.

WCAD will attempt to match tax-assessed value as close to market value as they can, but will typically base their number off a general area and will not use neighborhood comps like a Realtor would when marketing your home for sale. All this to say; the values could be much too high or much too low given the non-specific data used.

If you believe that the assessed value shown on your notice does not accurately reflect the market value of your home, you have the right to protest it.

Why Protest My Property Valuation?

When people don’t appeal, WCAD interprets the lack of response as confirmation that their assessed value is correct. This affects all homeowners in a given neighborhood for future years to come. By appealing too-high assessed values, you can help keep property taxes reasonable in congruence with the market value of homes in your neighborhood.

How Do I Protest My Property Taxes?

There are two ways to protest your property tax values.

1. By Mail

At the bottom of your appraisal notice, fill out the ‘Property Value – 2021 Notice of Protest’ form and mail it to the address below. Make sure you list facts and data as to why you believe the assessed value is incorrect.

Williamson Central Appraisal District
625 FM 1460
Georgetown, TX 78626-8050

2. Online

Visit the Williamson County Online Protest Filing page to file your protest online. To file online you will need your online protest passcode and a watermark indicating online eligibility, both of which can be found on your notice. If you have misplaced your notice or did not receive it, you can look it up online with the  Williamson County Property Search tool.

After you file, you should hear back from WCAD about an informal hearing date. The purpose of the hearing is to share your evidence as to why you think your home over-valued on your notice.

Keep in mind that it can take several weeks to several months to hear back about a hearing date after filing your protest. You can schedule your hearing yourself if you’d like to expedite the process. 

Please note that WCAD is in charge of assigning appraised values of homes; they have nothing to do with setting the tax rate itself.

Where Do I Get Evidence for the Market Value of My Home?

  1. Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). Contact your Realtor to see if they’ll send you an updated CMA with an estimated market value of your home, or conduct your own research.
  2. List and take pictures of any deficiencies in your house. Foundation issues, plumbing failures, etc. can all affect the tax assessed value.
  3. If your home was recently purchased and you paid less than the tax assessed value, bring a copy of your settlement statement to the hearing.

Make sure to review the Protest Procedures Overview for Williamson County before submitting. The deadline to protest property valuations in Williamson County for 2021 is May 17th.

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

April 13, 2021

Buy | Invest | Resources

So You Want to Buy A House in 2021?

Right now is a crazy time to buy and sell in Austin, Texas. Due to a number of factors (COVID, lumber shortages, new employers moving to Austin, low interest rates, etc.) the Austin real estate market is extremely hot right now. On average, homes are selling 5 – 20% over list price with multiple offers. With this in mind, I’ve prepared a brief “Buyer’s Survival Guide” with some tips for those looking to buy a house in 2021.

  1. Start Early. If you have plans to buy in the next year, email me today. This market is competitive and it may take longer to present a winning offer on a home, even if you are well qualified to buy.
  2. Consider new construction. Almost all new construction is currently sold out in Austin. New phases and sections will open up this Spring, but will likely sell out in the first week or two due to extremely high interest. Many builders are currently taking waitlists and will call names from them on a first come, first serve basis. The earlier you can get on these lists the better as it will take a few months to wait and few more months to build. Contact me for more details; I have connections and direct cell numbers for many home builders in the area!
  3. Save, save, save. Lenders can only issue loans up to the appraised value of a property. When homes sell well over the asking price, cash is needed to cover the difference between the appraised value and the purchase price.  Anything you can do between now and when you’re ready to buy to be able to bring extra funds to the table will help immensely.
  4. Do not wait for prices to go down. The biggest thing I can stress right now is that pricing isn’t likely to slow down. Hopefully, we will soon have more inventory in Austin which will reduce some competition and multiple offer scenarios. However, with new companies relocating to Austin and current home sales driving prices up, a ‘dip’ in Austin’s market is very unlikely.

Current homeowners: If you are thinking of moving out of the Austin area, please contact me. I have several well-qualified buyers who would love to view your home, and now is a great time to pocket extra earnings while the inventory is low and demand is extremely high.

However, if you currently own your home and are planning to stay in Austin and are not yet under contract on a new home, contact me. In this market, I recommend waiting to sell until you are under contract for your new home or have a clear plan of where you’ll stay while you’re looking as we can likely sell your current home far faster than we can contract on a new one.

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

February 13, 2021

Buy | Resources

How to Buy a Home in a Seller’s Market

It’s no secret that right now, Austin is in a seller’s market.

A seller’s market occurs when there is more demand from buyers for housing than there are homes available. A buyer’s market is the reverse and occurs when there are more homes available than buyers looking to purchase them.

Here’s how to put your best foot forward when submitting offers during a seller’s market.

1. Have Your Pre-Approval Letter Ready

Most sellers will not consider accepting an offer without a pre-approval letter from a local lender attached to it. While getting pre-approved for a mortgage is a relatively simple process, it can take several days to complete. A best practice is to get pre-approved before you start house hunting, so when you find a home you love you’re prepared to submit a complete offer.

2. Wear Your Decision-Making Hat

When the perfect property comes along during a buyers market, it’s generally okay to take a few days to think over whether you want to submit an offer or not. In a seller’s market, those few days often cost buyers the contract. When shopping for homes in a seller’s market, be prepared to put an offer in the day you find ‘the one’.

3. Know Your True Budget

Especially in Austin right now, multiple offer scenarios are not only common but to be expected. This often means that an offer price of list price or higher is needed to get your offer accepted. As your Realtor, it’s my goal to make sure you never overpay for a property and never exceed the budget that’s right for you. Knowing your absolute max ahead of time helps ensure that we know when to walk away, and when to raise an offer price to ensure it’s the winning one.

4. Work with an Experienced Realtor

Last but not least, make sure whomever you choose as your Realtor has experience negotiating in multiple offer situations! I’ve won contracts for my clients over tiny things like submitting a cleanly-written contract, providing a character reference, or working the contract in a way that puts a strong offer forward while still giving buyers an opportunity to get closing costs covered or walk away if needed after an inspection.

Buying during a seller’s market can take a little more work and patience but is still very doable. Austin shows no signs of slowing its growth, so please reach out if you have questions about buying or selling. I’d love to be your resource on all things real estate!

October 20, 2020

Resources | Sell

Top Home Upgrades in Austin, TX

The holidays are getting closer and for many people this year, that means a holiday season at home. As you celebrate in your own respective ways, here a couple of home improvement projects to consider that yield high returns* in Austin.

*All return on investment estimates based on the 2020 Hanley Wood Media Inc remodeling statistics

1. Add Stone Veneer to Exterior ~ 135.3% ROI
Stone veneer on the front of a house tends to attract more buyers than an all-vinyl-siding house exterior.

Recommended Upgrade: Remove existing vinyl siding from the bottom third of the street-facing façade and replace it with manufactured stone veneer.

2. Garage Door Replacement ~ 108.5% ROI
A new garage door can boost your home’s curb appeal while also being a functional upgrade.

Recommended Upgrade: Replace existing garage door and tracks with a steel garage door on heavy-duty steel tracks.

3. Replace Roof ~ 85.8% ROI
A roof can last anywhere from 15 – 50 years depending on the material. The most common type, asphalt shingle, lasts around 20 years. A new roof is a huge plus for buyers and a worthwhile project if it’s needed!

Recommended Upgrade: Remove existing roofing and install new fiberglass asphalt shingles.

4. Minor Kitchen Remodel ~ 78.5% ROI
If you’ve got a great kitchen layout but things are feeling a little lackluster, consider a cosmetic remodel to get the best ROI.

Recommended Upgrade: Replace fronts of cabinets with shaker-style wood panels and new, modern hardware. Replace cooktop/oven and refrigerator with stainless steel energy-efficient models. Replace laminate countertops with granite or quartz; install mid-priced sink and faucet. Add new resilient flooring and finish with fresh paint.

5. Wood Deck ~ 77.4% ROI
Outdoor living spaces are always in high demand and are especially trending this year.

Recommended Upgrade: Add a 16×20-foot wood deck and provide a complete railing system.

6. Window Replacement ~76.5% ROI
Not only will energy-efficient windows lower your utility bills, but they’re a big ‘check in the box’ for new home buyers.

Recommended Upgrade: Replace existing windows with insulated, dual-pane energy-efficient windows and new trim.

7. Master Suite Addition ~ 75.9% ROI
If you have attic access, it’s worth finding out if it has any buildable space for an additional bedroom or living area. With demand for multi-generational homes on the rise, having two master suites is an advantage.

Recommended Upgrade: Add master bedroom suite over crawlspace. Include walk-in closet, freestanding tub, shower, and double-bowl vanity with stone countertops. Carpet the bedroom floor; put tile in bath. Paint and install lighting.

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

September 29, 2020

Resources

Lumber Shortages: What This Means For You

As the pandemic has stretched on, demand for single-family housing has returned, and with a vengeance. The results of this have affected Austin’s market in several ways:

1. We are firmly in a seller’s market. Most homes have multiple buyers interested and are selling for over the asking price due to multiple offer scenarios.

2. The US is experiencing a national lumber price increase. As inventory shortages (seller’s not putting their homes on market) around the nation persist, demand for new construction is soaring. The lumber mills were not prepared for the high demand for housing paired with the low inventory, so pricing for lumber has increased exponentially (~ 60% over the last 6 months). For reference, framing lumber accounts for roughly 1/5 of the materials cost when building a new home.

What this means for you:

A) If you’re currently on the fence about buying a new home, act now. Many new home builders are planning base price hikes in the coming weeks in order to compensate for their newly added lumber costs. Locking in a purchase price for a new home before then can help you get some “instant equity” once the home is built 6-10 months down the line. I sell in many fantastic new construction communities all over Austin, so please feel free to contact me if you’re interested in learning more.

B) If you’re currently a homeowner who has been thinking about selling and relocating, now is a good time to sell as there are far more buyers than sellers in the Austin market.

C) However, if you have no plans to leave the Austin area and currently own property, I recommend holding onto it. While it’s true that properties are selling quickly and often well over the asking price, Austin is still growing and opportunity is still ripe to gain solid equity year over year on your existing home.

As always, please reach out any time with questions!

August 29, 2020

Buy | Rent | Resources | Sell

Market Update for Austin, Texas

As we enter month three of the pandemic, more and more data is becoming available as to how COVID-19 is affecting businesses, the stock market, and the real estate market.

The Austin Board of Realtors just released the April 2020 stats, and while overall home sales are down 20% from last April, the median sales price is up 3.2% and homes are selling 9 days faster than last April.

So what does all this mean for Austin’s housing market?

Buyers: Expect multiple offers and quick turnarounds from the time a house hits the market to the time it’s under contract. Inventory in Austin was low before COVID-19, and is even lower now as sellers wait to list their homes. It’s still worth buying now vs. later if you’re able to, as pricing shows no sign of decreasing.

Sellers: It’s a good time to sell if that’s been on your radar. Buyers are searching for great, new homes to hit the market. Matterport walkthroughs and virtual tours can help limit the number of people entering your home, and thus far we have not seen the prices of homes negatively affected.

Renters: Property prices in Austin are not showing signs of going down, even amidst a pandemic. If you’ve been thinking about buying, shoot me an email. In the meantime, most apartments are only offering virtual tours, though you can still view many rental houses in person.

Expect to see more new construction in Austin as inventory remains low. If you have any questions about the market or would like to go over your options for moving, buying, or selling, let’s hop on a Zoom call!

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

May 19, 2020

Buy | Invest | Resources | Sell

How to Protest Property Taxes in Travis County, Texas

Spring in Travis County marks the start of property tax season. If you own property that has increased in market value by at least $1,000 in the last year, you should receive a Notice of Appraised Value from the Travis County Appraisal District. At the top of the notice are two numbers; assessed value and market value. Your annual property tax amount owed is based on these numbers.

If you did not receive a Notice of Appraised Value via mail, you can look yours up online by using the official TCAD Property Search tool.

What’s the Difference Between Tax-Assessed Value and Market Value?

Tax-assessed value is what the county determines your property to be worth. Market value is how much an average buyer would pay for your home if it were for sale.

TCAD will attempt to match tax-assessed value as close to market value as they can, but will typically base their number off a general area and will not use neighborhood comps like a Realtor would when marketing your home for sale. All this to say; the values could be much too high or much too low given the non-specific data used.

If you believe that the assessed value shown on your notice does not accurately reflect the market value of your home, you have the right to protest it.

Why Protest My Property Valuation?

When people don’t appeal, TCAD interprets the lack of response as confirmation that their assessed value is correct. This affects all homeowners in a given neighborhood for future years to come. By appealing too-high assessed values, you can help keep property taxes reasonable in congruence with the market value of homes in your neighborhood.

How Do I Protest My Property Taxes?

There are two ways to protest your property tax values.

1. By Mail

Download this form, fill it out, and mail it to the address below. Make sure you list facts and data as to why you believe the assessed value is incorrect.

Travis Central Appraisal District
PO Box 149012
Austin TX 78714

2. Online

Visit the Travis County Protest Process page to file your protest online. To file online you will need to create an account using the Owner ID and PIN number found on your notice. If you have misplaced your notice or don’t know your owner ID and PIN, contact TCAD by phone (512-834-9317) or email (CSInfo@tcadcentral.org) to request that info.

After you file, you should hear back from TCAD about an informal hearing date. The purpose of the hearing is to share your evidence as to why you think your home over-valued on your notice.

Keep in mind that it can take several weeks to several months to hear back about a hearing date after filing your protest. Also, please note that TCAD is in charge of assigning appraised values of homes; they have nothing to do with setting the tax rate itself.

Where Do I Get Evidence for the Market Value of My Home?

  1. Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). Contact your Realtor to see if they’ll send you an updated CMA with an estimated market value of your home, or conduct your own research.
  2. List and take pictures of any deficiencies in your house. Foundation issues, plumbing failures, etc. can all affect the tax assessed value.
  3. If your home was recently purchased and you paid less than the tax assessed value, bring a copy of your settlement statement to the hearing.

The deadline to protest property valuations in Travis County for 2021 is May 17th.

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

May 5, 2020

Buy | Resources

Should You Refinance During COVID-19?

First, a quick update. Homespace has gone virtual! I am now offering virtual tours to all present and future clients. Click here to read more and learn about some additional options available for those who plan to buy or rent real estate during the pandemic.

Now, let’s talk about refinancing! Currently, interest rates for both new purchases and refinancing are near all-time lows. I recommend that homeowners with an interest rate above 4% consider talking to a lender about refinancing.

Refinancing FAQ’s

What is refinancing?

Loan refinancing is the process of obtaining a new loan to pay off an already existing loan. Homeowners typically refinance in order to receive a lower interest rate so that they can reduce their monthly mortgage payment.

Are there any downsides?

There are fees associated with refinancing and depending on the length of the new loan you term you select, you could end up paying on your house for longer than initially planned. Ask for a side by side comparison of your current monthly payment and amortization schedule vs the quoted refinanced option.

What’s the first step?

Reach out to myself or a loan officer to discuss your options, get a rate quote, and see if refinancing makes sense for you. I’m happy to provide references for some excellent lenders who have some of the lowest rates right now.

What should I know about refinancing during COVID-19?

Many lenders are double and triple-checking employment status’s which can make the refinance and/or purchase process take a bit longer than usual. Jumbo loans (loans larger than $424,100) are also temporarily suspended in many areas. Otherwise, it’s business as usual on the lending side.

If you’re considering refinancing and have any additional questions, please call, text, or email me for more info. If you’ve been thinking of purchasing in the near future, let’s talk too! Rates are great right now and the Austin market is showing no signs of slowing, even amidst the pandemic.

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

April 20, 2020

Announcement | Resources

Buying Real Estate during COVID-19

In this ever-changing time where the only certain thing is uncertainty itself, many businesses have been faced with a choice: shut down, or pivot. We’ve seen beloved restaurants close their doors but turn on their ignitions for delivery or curbside. Alcohol suddenly became deliverable, and cinematic releases are now streaming on home televisions. 

Homespace is not shutting down; it’s going to pivot. Until further notice, the following options will be available to clients:

1. Zoom/phone call consultations
How it works: All initial consults will be conducted over email, phone, or Zoom call.

2. Virtual tours of vacant properties.
How it works: I’ll help put together your tour schedule as normal, but will do a virtual video tour of the homes you’re interested in. Homespace has invested in top of the line video-stabilizing products to increase the quality of your tours and will deliver an in-depth video tour of each house or rental via Google Drive. There will also be a followup call to discuss any questions or concerns.

3. Zoom tours of occupied properties.
How it works: For the respect and safety of all involved parties, tours of occupied properties will be done via Zoom or Facetime with the current tenants/owners showing their home. Homespace will coordinate these calls in advance and be on the call to help direct any questions.

4. Zero-contact tours.
How it works: In situations where a client must see a vacant home in person or has narrowed virtual tours down to the final one or two top choices, I will be conducting zero-contact tours on a case by case basis. Clients must adhere to all CDC guidelines in order to schedule an in-person tour.

5. Remote inspections, negotiations, paperwork, and closings.
How it works: Much of the renting and buying process post-tour is done remotely already, so things won’t look too different once a house has been decided on. Home inspectors have been sending digital reports for years and will continue to operate that way during the pandemic. All negotiations will take place via phone call, text, or email per usual, and all paperwork will be digitally signed. 

This is a challenging, ever-changing time for everyone, and your patience is greatly appreciated as we all learn how to navigate the “new normal”. The good news is that the real estate market in Austin has remained largely unaffected by the pandemic, and Austin is still one of the fastest-growing cities in America. My goal is that with the above precautions in place, Homespace can continue to offer the same services you know and expect and together we can pivot and keep moving forward.


Stay healthy. Stay positive. Stay in touch.

Announcement | Resources

Homespace Realty and COVID-19

This is a strange time for everybody, and I have no doubt that all of your inboxes have been flooded with emails from every advertiser you know on how they’re handling business during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Thank you for your patience as I’ve taken time to figure out how to safely continue conducting real estate business during a time when social distancing is a best practice.

Here’s how Homespace is planning to help for the foreseeable future:

CURRENT CLIENTS

I am still a call, text, or email away and am here for anything you need as we navigate through your contract and upcoming moves. We will do as much as we can remotely, and handle the rest by proceeding as planned while keeping in line with the CDC’s recommendations. 

RENTERS & BUYERS WITH UPCOMING MOVES OR LEASE EXPIRATIONS

Please contact me to discuss your options. I am working with owners and landlords to conduct virtual tours of vacant and new construction properties, and am in close talks with several apartments in the area to obtain video tours of their available units while their doors are closed to the public.

Until CDC recommendations change, I will not be showing occupied homes or rental units in person out of respect and safety to everyone involved. I will, however, do my very best to arrange FaceTime or virtual showings of any properties you wish to see so long as all parties agree to participate. All new client consultations will be done via phone call or video chat.

SELLERS AND INVESTORS

I am now including Matterport 3D virtual home tours as part of my listing package so that we can make remote showings more interactive and appealing to potential buyers while protecting your home from unnecessary traffic. All listing appointments will be done via video call until the CDC has updated its recommendations. 

A note on real estate in 2020

We’re all in the same boat here, and no one can say with certainty how everything will shake out when things settle back down. What I can tell you is that title companies are open and doing remote closings, lenders are still issuing loans, and I am still working and available as your real estate resource, albeit with the above modifications. 998 homes hit the market this week, and as of now real estate in Austin is still moving.

On a personal level, I sincerely hope that all of my past, current, and future clients can stay home as much as possible until things settle down. If, however, you do need to move, please reach out to me and we’ll figure out how to make things work in this unique time. 

Stay home. Stay safe. Stay in touch.

March 23, 2020