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Got house hunting blues? Follow these tips from the Austin Board of Realtors president

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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