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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With major entertainment events slated for October, the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is gearing up for a busy month.
Artists and music lovers are set to pack into Zilker Park for The Austin City Limits Music Festival in the coming two weekends. Following that, Formula One will bring racing fans to the Circuit of the Americas.
For those two events, the airport is anticipating high passenger days with 30,000 or more people departing flights.
ABIA recommends arriving at least two and a half hours in advance for domestic flights on those days. For ACL, it's expected on both Sundays of the festival along with the Monday and Tuesday after. The F1-driven high passenger days are expected on Oct. 20-21 and Oct. 23-26.
\u201c#AustinCityLimits visitors, you\u2019re in for a weird and wild ride \ud83e\udd18\u262e\ufe0f \n\nFlying in or out of our airport? We got firm and fun tips for you: https://t.co/RawVRalOXN\u201d— Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) (@Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)) 1664894083
F1, especially, could draw in loads of travelers as the three-day event saw 400,000 attendees last year. ABIA warns that highways leading to the airport may see even higher traffic than usual around the event and that travelers should plan their route accordingly.
Bailey Grimmett, a spokesperson for ABIA, said travel numbers come in 24 hours in advance. So, it's hard to predict if the airport will see travel volumes at the same levels that have happened around previous F1 races or if it'll top ACL's flight traffic.
Still, she says historical knowledge points to a chance for it.
“We've had that Monday after F1 break the record for single busiest in airport history," Grimmett said. "So context clues I would say yes, but I can't confirm that. But the historical background points to that."
In anticipation of the high volume of flyers, the airport received additional TSA officers for security screening through the end of October. To prepare even further, the Department of Aviation and partners hosted a job showcase and hiring fair to address the continued labor shortage the airport has experienced.
Relief from hectic travel days is on the horizon with November likely to see a slowdown.
"I don't anticipate it will be as busy as October just because we don't have as many events going on," Grimmett said. "Thanksgiving is kind of our primary holiday that we see a lot of passengers coming in and out of the airport."