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The Secret Advantages of Listing in the Fall


There are many more benefits to listing later in the year than people think. For one thing, buyers are much more motivated during fall months.

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Many people don’t believe that the fall months are a good time to sell your home. However, this simply isn’t the case. Fall is actually a great time to list. There are a few reasons why this is.

First of all, selling in the fall means you’ll have a lot less competition. Many sellers plan to wait until spring to list. This lack of competition means your home will stand out. 

Also, it’s important to remember that there are still buyers out there looking for homes in these later months. Best of all, the buyers you’ll interact with in the fall are going to be much more serious than those who are looking at other times of the year.

Buyers in the fall are more motivated. As the holidays draw close, buyers become eager to get into their new home as soon as possible. Additionally, other buyers looking at this time may be doing so as a result of having been relocated by their workplace.

Fall colors and seasonal decor will make your home feel warm and inviting to buyers.

Finally, listing in the fall comes with the added advantage of the season’s beauty. Fall colors are absolutely gorgeous. Not only will your landscaping look fabulous if it is properly maintained, but you can also take advantage of seasonal decor. Both of these factors will make your home feel warm and inviting to buyers.

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Red Relief—Helping Those Impacted by Harvey and Irma


The Red Relief program by Keller Williams is dedicated to providing disaster relief to those impacted by Hurricane Harvey and Irma. Find out how you can help today.

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Keller Williams is here to help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.

When it comes to Keller Williams, family is everything. 

Our Red Relief program is dedicated to providing disaster relief to every family impacted by these storms. 

Hundreds of Keller Williams agents have gone to Texas to help those in Corpus Christi, Houston, Beaumont, and more. More agents are on their way to help families in the path of Hurricane Irma in Florida. 

So far, we have seen a tremendous outpouring of love from our volunteers and donors. Rebuilding these areas is going to take more than a couple of weeks, so it’s important that we keep the energy going in the coming months as we help people get back to their normal lives. 

As we work to rebuild these areas, we could use your help.

Please consider donating to our Red Relief program. Your contributions will help us supply food, water, clothing, and building supplies to these communities. 

If you have any questions about KW Cares, the Red Relief program, and our ongoing disaster relief efforts, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We appreciate your support as we work to help others through this difficult time.

How Do Fannie Mae’s Recent Changes Affect Those With Student Debt?


If you have a student loan or are a cosigner on one, listen up. Fannie Mae just introduced three new rule changes that will affect those with student debt.

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If you have a student loan or you are a cosigner on one, I have some good news for you. 

Fannie Mae, the nation's largest underwriter of mortgages, recently introduced three new rules that will affect those with student debt.

These new rules can make it easier to get a mortgage, and they can make it easier to pay off your (or your kids’) student loans.

The first change is for those on income-based repayment plans, where having a high debt-to-income ratio is the No. 1 reason for not being approved for a mortgage. 

Fannie Mae previously used a very conservative 1% of the total loan instead of the actual monthly payment. This can drastically lower your debt-to-income ratio and give you a much better chance of qualifying for a mortgage.

Some folks are lucky enough to have their student debt paid by their parents or even by their employer. The thing is, Fannie Mae didn't take this into account when calculating the debt-to-income ratio. That's the second new change.

If your employer or your parents have been paying off your student debt and you can show evidence of this for the past 12 months, then this debt won’t be counted in your debt-to-income ratio. This makes it more likely you will qualify for a mortgage.

If you can qualify for a mortgage right now, you definitely should.

If you can qualify for a mortgage right now, you definitely should. Rates are still at a historical low, and lots of great houses have recently come on the Austin market.

Fannie Mae also makes it possible to refinance your mortgage for more than the value of your home. Normally, there is a 0.25% fee that applies to any cash you take out in this way.

The third big change is that Fannie Mae will now waive that fee when you use this cash to pay off a student loan. 

This applies whether the loan is yours, or you're a cosigner. If the mortgage rate is significantly lower than the student loan rate, it can make sense to refinance in this way, and the new rule makes it cheaper to do so. 

If you need help understanding these new guidelines to see whether they’re right for you, or you have questions about putting them into practice, get in touch with me at 512-532-5550 or jennifer@smartservicesold.com. I’ll be glad to help. 

I hope to hear from you soon!

Let Your Home Make Its Best 1st Impression With Professional Photos

Professional photography plays a key role in your home sale. I’ll explain why today.

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Purchasing in the Austin area? Get full MLS access


You only get one chance at a first impression, which is absolutely true when it comes to selling your home. Since over 95% of buyers begin their home search online, you need professional listing photographs to catch their eye. 

Listing photographs let buyers know what the home looks like and help them figure out what kind of amenities there are.

Over 95% of buyers begin their home search online.

There are many great homes on the market that have been sitting there for a long time. The seller may wonder, “Why am I not getting any offers or showings?” If that’s your experience, go back and check the quality of your listing photos. Are they dark, grainy, or too small for prospective buyers to see? 

If you’re not representing yourself well online with professional photography, buyers will pass you by and go on to the next home. 

When a professional photographer comes to your house, they will shoot high-definition, crisp, clean, well-lit photographs that give prospective buyers a great view of the home. Professional photographers know how to make your property shine and stand out from the competition. 

We’ve also been working with drone photography. Drone photography is not required for every house, but if you have a great view or an acreage, drone photography can be a great way to showcase your home. 

If you have any other questions about the role professional photography plays in your home sale, or if you would like to learn more about the selling process in general, give us a call or send us an email. We would be happy to help you!

Is Austin in a Buyer’s or Seller’s Market?

What’s happening with Austin real estate? I’ll go over some numbers from our market to answer that today.

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The No. 1 question people ask me is if our market is a buyer’s or seller’s market. The latest Board of Realtors statistics show a tale of two markets. 

The inventory for houses priced $300,000 and below is quickly diminishing. There are not a lot of homes coming on the market in that price point, so when they do, there is a lot of competition. 

On the other hand, statistics show that the inventory for homes priced above $300,000 is rising a bit. 

The average sales price for homes in Austin has increased 13%, making the average sales price $371,000.

If you’re a seller, now is a great time to put your home on the market.

Overall, Austin is sitting at about 2.4 months of inventory on the market, which means it would only take 2.4 months to sell all the inventory currently on the market if no new homes were listed for sale. A balanced market boasts about six months of inventory.

So what does this mean for you?

If you’re a buyer, it’s incredibly important that you are pre-qualified for a mortgage and ready to make an offer on a home. Know what you’re looking for and be ready to compete. 

If you’re a seller, now is a great time to put your home on the market. Homes are only on the market for an average of 56 days. Because the market is tight and there is so little inventory, you will face much less competition. 

Real estate is a hyperlocal market, so if you’re looking to put your home on the market, feel free to reach out to me. If you have any other real estate questions, give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Price Your Home Correctly to Get Top Dollar

If you want top dollar for your home, pricing it correctly is crucial. I’ll go over why overpricing would be a huge mistake and explain how we can find the best price for your home today.

Selling in the Austin area? Get a market analysis report
Purchasing in the Austin area? Get full MLS access

Pricing your home correctly in this market is the key to getting top dollar. 

There’s a myth that the best strategy when selling is to price a home high and leave room for negotiation. Simply put, that’s the worst thing you can do. 

In order to price your home correctly and really take advantage of the market, we need to find your X-factor. Looking at what homes around your neighborhood sold for is a good starting point, but we need to dig a bit deeper.

The worst thing you can do is price your home too high.

For that, you’ll need an agent who is in the know to go over a market analysis with you. We’ll take a look at what improvements you’ve made or need to make in order to make your home more marketable and we’ll figure out the best list price for your home. 

If there are not many comparable homes in your area or if you have a unique home, it might be a good idea to get an appraisal done. 

Selling for top dollar and pricing correctly comes down to what we call the Three Cs: competition, consumption, and condition. Competition refers to how many sellers are active on the market, consumption refers to how quickly homes are selling, and condition refers to your home compared to others. 

If you’re thinking about selling your home, we’ll know how to price it. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to give us a call or send us an email. We’re always happy to help!

Just How Accurate Are Zillow's Zestimates?

Why can't you trust Zillow's Zestimate to get the value of a home? The Zestimate's capabilities are much more limited than most people realize.

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If you're trying to determine the price of a home, Zillow's Zestimates aren't the most trustworthy source.

Zillow uses an algorithm to calculate a home's value, and this algorithm uses a very limited number of factors to determine a price. For example, Zillow can't account for a home's location. A 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom house that hasn't been updated in decades and is near the highway will be valued the same as a brand-new home in a quiet cul-de-sac with the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

Even Zillow admits that these Zestimates could be off by as much as 15%. That's potentially a $30,000 inaccuracy for a $200,000 home. In fact, Zillow's CEO himself sold his home in 2016 for a whopping 40% less than what the Zestimate said it was worth!

Zillow can't account for a home's location.

The only way to get a true, accurate value for your home is by hiring a professional real estate agent who knows your market inside and out. We've actually even added a home value calculator that you can use for free on our website—you can even email me pictures to get an even more accurate value. To take it a step further, we can actually come out to your home to discuss its value.

If you'd like to know what your home is worth in today's market or you're looking to buy a new one, give us a call or send us an email. We'd be glad to help!

How Will Increasing Interest Rates Affect the Austin Market?

As you probably know by now, the Fed increased interest rates at the end of last year. Today I’ll go over what effect that increase is having on our Austin market.

Selling in the Austin area? Get a market analysis report
Purchasing in the Austin area? Get full MLS access


By now, you’ve probably heard that there was an increase in interest rates at the end of last year. I want to go over the impact of that increase on our market here in Austin and give you an idea of what you can expect as a result in 2017. 

We’ve been told that interest rates will be raised at least three more times in 2017, with some economists predicting a worst-case scenario of a rate of 5% by the end of the year. 

Whenever rates increase, people get a little concerned about how it will affect home sales. According to local economists, there really is no cause for alarm, but the increase may affect the rate at which home values increase. Instead of the 7% to 10% increase in home values we are used to, we might only see a 5% increase. 

Austin is experiencing great job growth right now, but it doesn’t seem to be causing a negative effect on the housing market as consumer confidence is high and unemployment is low.

Right now is a fantastic time to sell your home.

All in all, economists predict 2017 to be a great year for our market. That being said, if you’re thinking about selling a home this year and are wondering when the best time to sell is, the answer is right now. 

Give us a call today and we can get you in contact with our preferred lender who will get you started on your way to financing a home. Additionally, if you have any other real estate-related questions or you’d like to find out how we can ensure your home sale process is as smooth and successful as possible, please feel free to reach out to us. I look forward to hearing from you! 

What's in Store for the 2017 Austin Market?

I recently attended the Austin Home Builders Association 2017 forecast, and I wanted to bring you an update on our market based on what I learned. 2017 looks to be another great year for our market.

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Today we have a quick update on the real estate market here in Austin.

In 2016, we had another great year in real estate. The median price for a home rose 7.2% to $284,000, and on average, homes sold in just 50 days. Inventory stayed tight at about two months worth of supply. On average, sellers got 98% of their list price.  

So what does 2017 look like? I wish I had a crystal ball, but I don't. I did, however, recently attend the Austin Home Builders Association 2017 forecast where local economists predicted another great year in 2017 in Austin. Job growth, population growth, and the low inventory will all contribute. Builders are working hard and fast to meet that demand, but the supply just isn't there yet. They weren't concerned about rising interest rates hindering the market because they're still historically low.

"Supply is low and demand is high, making conditions very favorable for sellers."

So what does this mean for you? If you want to sell your house this year, it's a great time to do so. Low inventory means you won't face a lot of competition. We also know a lot of people move here on a daily basis. 

If you're looking to sell your home, we'd love the chance to work with you. Our clients get 102% of their asking price on average and sell in an average of just 17 days. Just give me a call or send me an email and let's get the discussion started.