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Austin's housing market is hotter than ever before, and it's showing no signs of slowing down. With nearly 200 people arriving in Austin per day, housing inventory is sparse, and with an influx of California money rapidly coming in, property costs are skyrocketing.
Buying a house just isn't as easy as it used to be, according to Austin Board of Realtors 2021 President Susan Horton, who sat down with Austonia to give some tips on how to make it out alive in a "fast, furious" and "cutthroat" real estate market.
Know what you want and have a plan
Follow Horton's advice and don't buy with your "eyes and … heart instead of what there is on the need list."
it's easy to get distracted by glamour while you're shopping around, so sit down and lay out your needs, wants and dreams for a house before you shop.
Horton says you can't know what you want until you figure out what you need. Don't jump straight into looking at houses or get distracted by glitzy exteriors before you know exactly what you want in your future abode: good schools, proximity to downtown, a short commute, or perhaps a jacuzzi, open floor plan or friendly neighbors.
Don’t go it alone—build a support team
When you're searching for a home, Horton said it is important to gather professionals who can help guide you through the complex, lengthy and, at times, stressful and frustrating process of buying a house.
Don't try to navigate the process without a trusted real estate agent and lender. Why? A real estate agent has studied the market, can help buyers identify which areas meet their needs, walk buyers through copious hurdles that can arise, connect them to a trusted lender and above all, save them tons of time.
A lender can help buyers understand financing options and manage their money to avoid unnecessary spending and heartache because Horton says buyers are "not going to find anything if they're not going to be able to move."
Start shopping around as soon as possible
While starting the process can be scary, Horton says you have to have to get in as soon as possible. "You can't be afraid (and) you can't be fearful because the prices are going to continue to go up," Horton said.
Once you've lined up everything you need and have a good support group around you, the final step is being ready to pull the trigger. According to Horton, the average home will stay on the market for 17 days, but some can go as quickly as four days compared to an average of 91 days across the state of Texas. Since Austin has a pretty steep housing inventory shortage, buyers need to be ready to make a decision —and fast—if they think a certain home is right for them.
Know when renting is a better option for you
While Horton works hard to get every set of buyers into a house that will work for them, sometimes it just doesn't work out.
Horton says it's important to understand when the time is right. If you've been searching for more than six months, it might be time to take a pause and save up while you rent for a while. While you're renting, your realtor can continue to monitor the markets you're interested in and you continue to house hunt, Horton said. "If that means that we have to buy out of your lease, then we'll do it, but I try to give them an option that's going to keep them in the home buying process."
Horton's dos and don'ts
Horton recommends prospective buyers follow these tips to make the process as seamless as possible:
Do look at several homes before you make a choice. You don't want any "what ifs" while buying a house, so make sure you will be satisfied before making an offer.
Don't overbid—stay within your financial limits. That doesn't mean you're not going to pay over the asking price, but it will keep you closer to your limit.
Do ask questions. Stay in constant communication with your house-hunting team and let them know your concerns because they are there to help.
Don't buy based on the beautifully-staged decor— buy based on the bare bones of the house. Some houses may look perfect, but that doesn't mean they will be perfect for your needs.
Do get a house inspector when you decide on a home because you never know what's hiding behind a pretty exterior.
Don't get frustrated if the process isn't going the way you envisioned. Austin's housing market is red-hot, and unless you have a lot of cash on hand, you're probably going to have to be patient.
Do continue to pay down debts. You want your credit to be squeaky clean. Although lenders are looking at certain types of debt, like student loans, in a different light, sellers are going with whoever's record looks best.
Don't make any major purchases if you can avoid it and certainly don't make them without talking to your lender. Your lender needs to be in the know about your financial decisions lest you make trouble for yourself down the line.
Follow all those tips and Horton says you are more likely to have a "clean, clear, smooth, closing." Happy hunting!
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Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced a record-setting second quarter during an earnings call broadcasted from the Giga Texas construction site in Southeast Travis County on Monday.
The electric carmaker reported more than $1 billion in quarterly net income and the production of more than 200,000 vehicles for the first time despite challenges such as a global semiconductor shortage.
"It … seems that public sentiment towards electric vehicles is at an inflection point, and at this point, I think, almost everyone agrees electric vehicles are the only way forward," Musk said.
Exterior shots taken just a while ago of Giga Texas (while @elonmusk is reportedly at the Gigafactory!) during today's earnings call!
Hope @peterdog15 got to catch the technoking in his video! #fastestinhistory #Tesla pic.twitter.com/WqeDlb5wU3
— Austin Tesla Club (@AustinTeslaClub) July 26, 2021
Despite rising consumer demand and adequate factory capacity, Tesla faces what Musk described as a "quite serious" global semiconductor shortage, which will determine the company's growth rate for the rest of the year.
With increased revenue and production, Tesla is investing in new factories, Chief Financial Officer Zachary Kirkhorn said. These include Giga Texas, the $1.1 billion manufacturing plant that broke ground last summer and is slated to open later this year.
The Giga Texas factory in Southeast Travis County has rapidly increased in size since ground broke last August. (Tesla)
Musk commended the construction team for "incredible progress," transforming what was basically a vacant site into "a mostly complete large factory a year later."
I was at Giga Texas yesterday. Team is making excellent progress. Building will be almost a mile long when complete.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 25, 2021
Giga Texas will produce the highly anticipated Cybertruck, along with other models, but Musk said scaling its production will be difficult, especially given the supply chain delays caused by the pandemic. "It's going to move as fast as the slowest of its up to 10,000 unique parts," he said.
In other news, Musk said Monday's earnings call would likely be his last regular appearance, only jumping on future quarterly calls when big announcements warrant it.
Tesla Solar recently made news when it announced plans to build the nation's most sustainable residential community in Southeast Austin earlier this month. The newly built homes will feature Tesla solar roof tiles and Powerwall battery storage as well as electric vehicle charging stations.
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The city of Austin released a shortlist of seven candidates for the police chief position left vacant when Brian Manley retired in March.
City Manager Spencer Cronk hopes to announce an appointment by the end of August, which will require City Council approval.
The finalists, chosen from a field of 46 applicants, include:
- APD Interim Chief Joseph Chacon, who previously served as an assistant chief in the department for almost five years
- Anne Kirkpatrick, former police chief in Oakland, California, who was fired last year after a federal monitor criticized her handling of a fatal 2018 police shooting of a homeless man
- Dallas Police Department Assistant Chief Avery L. Moore, who is a 30-year veteran of the department
- Atlanta Police Department Deputy Chief Celeste Murphy, who manages the department's community services division
- Dekalb County Police Chief Mirtha V. Ramos, who previously served as division chief in the Miami-Dade Police Department
- Wichita Police Department Chief Gordon Ramsay, who is a former president of the Minnesota Police Chief's Association as well as one of the first police chiefs of a major U.S. City to call George Floyd's death a murder, as reported by the Wichita Eagle
- Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Emada E. Tingirides, who is also commanding officer of the department's newly formed Community Safety Partnership Bureau, which serves L.A.'s underserved communities
City staff will interview the finalists in the coming weeks, with several community input opportunities to come, according to a Monday press release.
The city conducted a public survey in March and hosted community input meetings in April to learn more about what residents are looking for in their next police chief, which helped shape the selection criteria for the position.
"They want to see the Chief be reform-minded and transparent and have a track record of fostering community involvement and accountability," Cronk said in the release. "The candidates selected show these characteristics in various ways."
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Days after Austin began once again recommending masks in public spaces, Austin ISD announced Monday that kindergarten through sixth-grade classes will have virtual options this fall.
The district will discuss the move in a special board meeting Monday evening starting at 5 p.m., while full details will be released Friday.
Teachers will not have to fret about the new option—no educators will have to juggle both virtual and in-person learning. Instead, certain teachers will specialize in virtual education, according to a press release.
The news comes after a recent spike in COVID cases in Travis County and across the nation. Children typically suffer fewer symptoms of COVID when contracted, but they are now catching the virus more often than their older counterparts without a vaccine available to them and as the more contagious Delta variant is quickly being spread.
While local health officials are recommending everyone wear masks, public school districts are unable to mandate masks due to an executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott in May.
Parents have expressed concern about classrooms with masks unenforceable and children under the age of 12 ineligible for a vaccine. Some have even said they would look for alternative schooling if AISD did not offer a virtual option for students.
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