Quiz – Buyers’ Favorite Features

What do buyers want most in a new home? The National Association of REALTORS collected responses from more than 2500 buyers who recently purchased a home. Let’s see how well you know house hunters’ priorities!

1. What single home feature do buyers say they want most in a new home?

A. Walk-in closet in master bedroom
B. Central air conditioning
C. Backyard
D. Fully finished basement

2. What was the median home size purchased in 2013?

A. 2,320 square feet
B. 1,860 square feet
C. 1.450 square feet
D. 1,000 square feet

3. Repeat buyers tend to be choosier than first-time buyers. In particular, repeat buyers place much more emphasis on these home features:

A. Fireplaces and air filtration systems
B. Bay windows and finished basements
C. Over-sized garages and master bedroom with walk-in closets
D. Backyards and proximity to entertainment

4. Within three months after buying a home, nearly half of all buyers remodeled or made improvements to which part of the house?

A. Master bedroom
B. Backyard
C. Kitchen
D. Home office

5. Which kitchen feature ranked highest among buyers?

A. New appliances
B. Eat-in kitchen
C. Kitchen Island
D. Granite countertops

6. What three features did buyers say they’d be most willing to pay extra for in a home?

A. Proximity to work, a wooded lot, and a backyard or play area
B. Whirlpool baths, proximity to schools, and a deck
C. A corner lot, a lawn sprinkler system, and high-end kitchen appliances
D. Central air-conditioning, walk-in closets, and hardwood floors

7. A home’s energy efficiency is most important to which segment of buyers?

A. Repeat buyers
B. Second-home buyers
C. New-home buyers
D. First-time buyers

8. Where do first-time home buyers tend to purchase a home?

A. Rural area
B. City or urban area
C. Suburb or subdivision
D. Small town

9. What’s the most common type of home purchased?

A. Single level
B. Split level
C. Two levels
D. Three levels

10. What did new-home buyers most wish their home had more of?

A. Storage
B. Bedrooms
C. Kitchen space
D. Bathrooms



1. B          2. B          3. C          4. C          5. A          6. D          7. C         8. C          9. A          10. A



The 2015 Top Reasons Why Austin is a Great Place to Live

Everyone seems to be talking about Austin!  With our thriving economy, vibrant music scene, and eclectic culture, it is no surprise that we are America’s fastest growing city.  Below is a listing of recent acknowledgements and accolades that Austin has received from the online news sites, print media, recent studies, and public opinion polls at a national level.


  • Number one of the 6 most affordable, Fast-growing US Cities – Urban living without breaking the bank (Cheapism.com, February 2014)
  • Number one of America’s 20 Fastest-Growing Cities (Forbes.com, February 2014)
  • Number two of 16 U.S. Cities Where Women Actually Earn More Than Men (Nerdwallet, July 2014)
  • Austin ranks fourth on Forbes’ List of America’s Most Creative Cities in 2014 (Forbes, July 2014)
  • Austin ranks 45th among 2014’s Most & Least Recession-Recovered Cities (Wallet Hub, July 2014)
  • According to a Nerdwallet study, Austin ranks number seven among the 10 best cities to launch a start-up (CNN Money, July 2014)
  • Austin, Round Rock, and San Marcos are grouped at number six among Best Places for STEM Graduates (Nerdwallet, July 2014)
  • CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists rank Austin as number five among the Top Ten Metros with the Highest Gains in Share of U.S. Jobs for our data processing and hosting, computer system design, management, scientific and technical consulting services, and semiconductor manufacturing. (CareerBuilder.com, July 2014)
  • Austin ranks number three among Cities Stealing Jobs from Wallstreet (NewGeography.com, June 2014)
  • According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Austin will be the fastest growing U.S. metro economy through 2020 (U.S. Conference of Mayors Online, June 2014)
  • Austin is one of the top five most small business-friendly cities in the nation (Thumbtack, June 2014)
  • Austin ranks number two in the Best Cities for Women in the workforce (Nerdwallet, June 2014)
  • Austin is the third best city for starting an online business (HighSpeedInternet.com, May 2014)
  • Austin ranked number three on Forbes’ Top Large Cities for Jobs list (Forbes, April 2014)
  • Austin is the third Best City for College Grads (Livability.com, April 2014)
  • Austin’s economic performance from the recession through the recovery ranks number one in the nation (Brookings’ Metro Monitor, April 2014)
  • Austin is the third Best City for Job Seekers (Nerdwallet, January 2014)
  • Austin is number two in the Top 5 Fastest Growing Cities for Renters in the U.S. (Rent.com, May 2014)
  • Austin ranks number one for 2012-2013 population growth among the 100 largest U.S. metros (U.S. Census Bureau, March 2014)
  • For the fourth year in a row, Austin ranks number one on Forbes’ annual list of America’s Fastest-Growing Cities (February 2014)


  • Austin makes the list of Best Cities for Service-Oriented Students (BestColleges.com, July 2014)
  • University of Texas at Austin named the 28th best university in the world (Times Higher Education, October 2014)
  • Austin tops ranking of U.S. metros for net migration of adults with college degrees (NewGeography.com, August 2014)
  • The University of Texas ranks 5th worldwide for U.S. patents granted to universities in 2013 (National Academy of Inventors, June 2014)
  • According to data culled by ZipRealty Inc., the Eanes school district of the Austin area is one of the country’s top 10 Best Places for Families to Live (Ziprealty, July 2014


  • Texas ranks number two on the list of U.S. states by food/drink (Thrillist, July 2014)
  • Austin is one of the 10 Best Cities to Dine with Your Valentine (Trulia, February 2014)
  • Austin’s District Kitchen and Cocktails is included in the Top 100 Neighborhood Gem Restauraunts in America (OpenTable Inc., June 2014
  • USA Swimming’s top 50 swimming cities in the country ranks Austin as number eight (USA Swimming, July 2014)
  • The Guardian’s top 40 international holiday hotspots lists Austin as number three for 2014 (The Guardian, January 2014)
  • Hamilton Pool of Dripping Springs, Texas was ranked #18 among “America’s Best Swimming Holes” (Weather.com, August 2014)
  • Jacob’s Well: Wimberley Valley, Texas was ranked #3 among “America’s Best Swimming Holes” (Weather.com, August 2014)


  • Two Austin neighborhoods (Mueller and Gallindo) made the list of Top 10 Neighborhoods for Green Homes (Redfin, April 2014)
  • Austin is in the top 10 affordable purchase markets for aspiring millennial homebuyers (RISMedia, July 2014)
  • Austin ranks 16th in the nation for solar power by Total Installed Solar PV Capacity (EnvironmentTexas.com, April 2014)
  • Named among the top 10 budget-friendly retirement spots for having a lot of retirement-friendly attributes, including low taxes (CNBC Online, June 2014)
  • Austin was ranked among the “Top 20 Coolest Cities in America” (Forbes Magazine, August 2014)
  • Austin is the No. 3 City in the U.S. to Educate, Entertain, and Exhaust Your Kids (Macaroni Kid, September 2014)
  • Austin is one of the Ten Best Cities for Coffee Snobs (Redfin, September 2014)
  • Austin ranked 40 of 100 among the most recreation-friendly cities for park quality, weather conditions, entertainment and rec. facilities (WalletHub.com, July 2014)
  • Austin is number one on the list of top ten cities in the U.S. for group fitness (MyFitnessPal, July 2014)
  • Austin made the list of the Five Best Cities for Pet-Friendly Vacations (SheKnows.com, July 2014)
  • Austin is rated the number three most patriotic city in the U.S. (MyLife.com, July 2014)
  • Austin is rated the second best city for millennials (Niche.com, April 2014)
  • U-Haul names Austin the sixth U.S. Destination City in 2013 (April 2014)
  • Austin and San Antonio are the two Best Places for Veterans overall. Austin ranks in the top five for veterans starting out, mid-career, and military retirement (United Services Automobile Association, October, 2014)
  • Austin ranks number seven on the list of the world’s most dynamic cities (Jones Lang LaSalle, January, 2014)

If you or someone you know is interested in taking advantage of the hot Austin real estate market, give me a call. 

Homestead Exemption in Central Texas

Filing for a homestead exemption is one of the easiest ways for home owners to save a little money on annual property taxes.  There is only one simple criteria to qualify for this tax exemption – you must claim the home as your primary residence.  You or your spouse cannot claim more than one exemption on another property in or outside of the state of Texas.  Filing for the exemption is easy.  Do not pay for this service (unless one of your hobbies includes lighting your fire place with dollar bills).

Fill out this homestead exemption application and drop it by your local appraisal district.

So what can you actually save by doing this?  In our example, we’ll calculate property taxes on a $200,000 home with and without a $15,000 exemption.

Without Homestead Exemption:
Property value – $200,000
Property tax rate – 2.5%
Property taxes – $5,000 annually

With Homestead Exemption:
Property value – $200,000
Exemption value – $15,000
Taxable property value – $185,000
Property tax rate – 2.5%
Property taxes – $4,625 annually

Savings = $375/year (for doing close to nothing)

Other tax exemptions:

Age 65 or Older or Disabled Persons

  • owner must be 65 or older (surviving spouse must be 55 or older at time of death)
  • disabled person must meet the definition of disabled for the purpose of receiving disability insurance benefits under the Federal Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance Act

This exemption value can be an additional $10,000.  Taking our above example, the savings can be upped to $625/year.


  • veteran who was disabled while serving in the U.S. armed forces or surviving spouse

Exemption values for disabled veterans vary depending on the disability rating of the veteran:

Disability Exemption
Disability Rating Exemption Amount Up To
10% to 29% $5,000 from the property’s value
30% to 49% $7,500 from the property’s value
50% to 69% $10,000 from the property’s value
70% to 100% $12,000 from the property’s value

These values can further give homeowners savings on their property taxes each year you qualify and you do not need to re-apply each year.

Have more questions regarding residence homestead exemption, 65 or older exemption, or veteran exemption?  Visit the Texas website here or contact me directly.

6 States Where Jobs, Housing Shine

Employment growth often fuels strong housing markets, and if that holds true, Texas will be booming in more ways than just one.

Employment is flooding into the Lone Star State and shows no signs of slowing. About 413,000 jobs have been added in Texas in the last 12 months. The state, which is experiencing a thriving energy and oil sector, is expected to have the nation’s fastest annual job growth rate, at 2.7 percent, over the next five years, according to data from Moody’s Analytics. Texas boasts 118 of the largest companies in the U.S.

North Dakota is also seeing a dramatic rise in its labor market, with job growth forecast at 2.6 percent a year through 2018.

Jobs and income growth are key to a strong performance in the housing recovery in 2014, Freddie Mac Chief Economist Frank Nothaft said earlier this year. Indeed, economists at the National Association of Home Builders say that income growth is a key metric to watch for the future of new- and existing-home sales.

Forbes.com, using Moody’s Analytics data, ranked the best states for job growth:

  1. Texas
    Projected annual job growth: 2.7%
    Unemployment rate: 5.2%
  2. North Dakota
    Projected annual job growth: 2.6%
    Unemployment rate: 2.8%
  3. Nevada
    Projected annual job growth: 2.6%
    Unemployment rate: 7.3%
  4. Florida
    Projected annual job growth: 2.5%
    Unemployment rate: 6.1%
  5. Arizona
    Projected annual job growth: 2.5%
    Unemployment rate: 6.9%
  6. Colorado
    Projected annual job growth: 2.5%
    Unemployment rate: 4.7%

Source: “Texas Leads Best States for Future Job Growth,” Forbes.com (Nov. 2, 2014)

Home Financing, by Generation

  • 88% of buyers financed their home purchase, including 97% of generation Y
  • YOUNGER BUYERS PUT LESS MONEY DOWN: Generation Y put down an average of 5% and generation X put down 10%, compared to the silent generation who put down an average of 23%


12% of buyers thought that saving for a down payment was difficult .



  • 64% of buyers dipped into their savings or a gift from a relative or friend
  • 31% of buyers used the proceeds from the sale of a primary residence
  • Older buyers were more likely to use the proceeds from their home sale


  • 42% said student loans, which was cited by more than half of generation Y buyers
  • 38% said credit card debt, which was cited by almost half of Baby Boomers and generation X buyers
  • 31% said car loans

Thanks to Holly Schuler at Gracy Title for this information!

2014 Cost vs. Value: 5 Mid-Range Remodeling Projects That Offer the Biggest Returns

Just replacing that front door may offer some of the biggest bang for a remodelers’ buck, according to the 2014 Cost vs. Value Report. It’s one of the least expensive remodeling jobs and offers the potential of a 96.6 percent return on investment at resale – the highest of 35 remodeling projects recently analyzed. Front door replacement has topped the Cost vs. Value report since the first survey in 2009.

Remodeling Magazine, in conjunction with REALTOR® Magazine, each year takes a look at some of the most popular remodeling projects and gauges how well the projects retain their value at resale.

For mid-range projects, here are projects that retain their value by the highest rates, according to national averages:

1. Entry door replacement (steel)

Estimated job cost: $1,162

Estimated resale value: $1,122

Cost recouped: 96.6%

2. Deck addition (wood)

Estimated job cost: $9,539

Estimated resale value: $8,334

Cost recouped: 87.4%

3. Attic bedroom

Estimated job cost: $49,438

Estimated resale value: $41,656

Cost recouped: 84.3%

4. Garage door replacement

Estimated job cost: $1,534

Estimated resale value: $1,283

Cost recouped: 83.7%

5. Minor kitchen remodel

Estimated job cost: $18,856

Estimated resale value: $15,585

Cost recouped: 82.7%

By: Melissa Tracy on March 24, 2014


3 Reasons Buyers, Sellers Need a Realtor

BMO Harris Bank recently conducted a survey finding that about 47% of home owners said they could sell a home without the help of a real estate agent, and 59% said they likely could purchase a home on their own. Not surprisingly, 75% of respondents also said they ended up using a real estate professional when it came down to it. Here’s why:


Austin Recognized for Fewest Days on Market

Austin is new to the top 10 list at just over half the national average of 102 days. With its fast growing economy, a cost of living that’s 15 percent below the national average, low crime rates, and healthy housing market, it’s no surprise that Austin, Texas is the fastest growing city in the U.S. 

If you are interested in buying a home in the Austin area and you want straightforward, intelligible information about the real estate market so you can achieve your goals, please don’t hesitate to contact me.


10 MSAs With Fewest Median Days on Market

March 2014

Denver, CO


Oakland, CA


San Jose, CA


San Francisco, CA


Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA


Boulder-Longmont, CO


Anchorage, AK


Stockton-Lodi, CA


San Diego, CA


Austin-San Marcos, TX


Source: “Realtor.com® Report: Higher Inventory a Welcome Sign for Spring Buyers,” realtor.com®(April 17, 2014)

Does Your Home Have What it Takes to Sell

According to the Wall Street Journal, the following is a list of common buzzwords that are selling homes like hot cakes over the past two years:

  1. Marble bath
  2. Oversized windows
  3. Ceiling windows
  4. Floor-to-ceiling windows
  5. Wine cellars
  6. Marble floors
  7. Gyms
  8. Private elevators
  9. Tennis courts

If you’ve got any of these in your house and are feeling lucky, give me a call and let’s target market the house to someone really looking for a marble bath.

Source: http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2013/11/07/9-buzzwords-helping-sell-homes?om_rid=AACLKS&om_mid=_BSfBDqB82T3d6d&om_ntype=RMODaily

Texas-Sized Housing Boom

The Texas A&M Real Estate Center reports a huge increase in home values and bidding wars in Houston and Dallas.  Over 15% median price increases in Dallas and 14% in Houston represent the highest year over year increases in over a decade.  Although it doesn’t mention anything about Austin, we’ve had our own share of bidding wars and multiple offers for the better half of 2013 and still going on in many pocket neighborhoods.

A hot real estate market can be a difficult ocean for both sellers and buyers alike to navigate so if you need an experienced and savvy real estate agent to sell or purchase a home in a hot market, give me a call.

Source: http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2013/10/10/everything-including-housing-boom-bigger-in-texas?om_rid=AACLKS&om_mid=_BSVxHPB81u25$z&om_ntype=RMODaily

Facebook Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com