When looking at homes for sale, prospective buyers often make relatively fast decisions on which homes they find attractive and which ones they see as lacking in appeal. Since many of these decisions are based solely on how the home looks in marketing photos and during the buyer's visit to view the home, sellers who want to get the best possible purchase offers are wise to make sure that their homes are clean, attractive, and well-organized before putting them on the market. But even the cleanest, most well-prepared homes may not compete as well as hoped, especially if they are vacant during the showing process or fail to stand out in competitive markets like Kyle. For these and other homes that may need a little something extra to grab and hold buyer interest, home staging just might be the answer.
Make it Light
One of the first rules in home staging is to make sure every room is well-lit, with attractive lighting and no dark corners or shadowy areas. In addition to making sure that every light fixture, including ceiling fan and under-cabinet lighting fixtures are clean and working correctly, sellers should also consider:
- Swapping harsh light bulbs for softer, warmer lighting that will help make the room more welcoming
- Making sure that available natural light is maximized by keeping window glass clean and keeping blinds and drapes opened during daytime showings
- Changing dark or drab paint colors to lighter, brighter ones
When it comes to painting a room, there are two options: hire someone to do it, or do it yourself. For many people, painting can seem like an intimidating project. However, painting can be a very straightforward process for any homeowner. Follow these easy steps to achieve a new look in any room in your Georgetown home.
When it comes to paint, there are dozens of different types. For the average interior room, latex-based paint with an eggshell finish is a good choice. It provides just a little bit of shine and is easier to work with than oil-based paints, especially for beginners. Paint that has the primer already mixed in can also be a good choice because it helps reduce the number of coats the wall needs.
Other rooms, such as bathrooms and kitchens, or walls with cigarette smoke damage will have different needs, so be sure to ask for advice from the hardware store’s paint attendant.
Before You Start
Before picking up a roller, be sure to lay out a tarp to prevent any drips from landing on the floor. Painter’s tape is optional, but it can be a good choice for helping get sharp edges that look professional. It’s also a good idea to remove all air vent covers and light switch plates so they don’t get paint on them that needs to be scraped off.
When finally opening the paint can, give it a good stir. If paint sits still for too long, it can settle and the color will become uneven, so stirring will help to even it back out. And for large rooms that require more than one gallon of paint, buy a large bucket and empty...
Located about 30 miles outside of Austin, the city of Georgetown has been enjoying a trickle-down population boom as a result of the Austin's immense popularity. Since the start of the decade, the population has increased by more than 25,000 people, and it seems that growth will continue into the near future. This has caused an increase in home prices, as buyers are searching for gorgeous homes in the suburbs that are located close enough to where nearly everyone works. Currently, the median sales price in Georgetown is about $370,000, and home values are expected to continue to rise.
So, with this in mind, it's important to recognize the different trends that are influencing the local market conditions. Here's a few that we think you should know about:
The Population in the County Continues to Grow
Williamson County has enjoyed significant population growth during the last decade, and that growth is not expected to slow down anytime soon. In fact, according to the chief economist with the TAMU Real Estate Center, the population throughout the county will rise to nearly 2 million residents by the year 2050. Georgetown, by association, will also continue to experience growth and development during this time. As new residents head to the area, the local real estate market will respond in kind. Homes will be in high demand, prices will continue to rise, and new construction homes will continue to be built. It is anticipated that many of the new residents will be young adults in search of jobs, so the preferences of the younger generations may influence the types and styles of homes that are marketable in Georgetown.
Georgetown is Investing in Its Public Schools
The current residents of Georgetown have recognized the need for updates and refurbishments within their local schools, which is why voters ...
Sometimes a conventional night out on the town just isn’t enough. For residents of Cedar Park and Leander, there are a few unique venues to check out. In the case of Painting with a Twist and Sip and Stain, local residents have an opportunity to enjoy whatever beverages they like along with more creative pursuits like painting and sign making. Let’s take a look.
Painting with a Twist
Painting with a Twist is located in Cedar Park. At this establishment, attendees are free to bring their own beverages. Ice, refrigeration and wine chillers are provided and this venue also provides cups and allows patrons to bring in whatever food they like.
Past the food and drink, however, Painting with a Twist is all about creativity. This venue offers a variety of art classes for adults, kids and even specialized classes for everyone. At each class, attendees are given all the art supplies necessary to paint along with an instructor as they enjoy the food and drinks that they’ve brought along. This is a great opportunity to enjoy a favorite bottle of wine (if you're over 21) and to brush up on creative skills.
Sip and Stain
Sip and Stain is a Leander attraction that works similarly to Painting with a Twist. Here, patrons are asked to bring their own beverages with alcoholic beverages welcome for everyone over age 21. The main difference is the type of art projects that attendees will complete as they enjoy their beverages.
Here, the focus is on making signs. At the beginning of each class, attendees will have the opportunity to choose the type of sign that they’d like to make. The...
It is not only the demand for green home but the potential to save money over the lifetime of owning a home causing homeowners to look for affordable energy efficient improvements. Here are a few simple options for current and prospective homeowners to improve their energy usage and reduce their utility bills.
Swapping out older appliances for newer models can provide homeowners with additional energy savings. Look for appliances with the ENERGY STAR® label. The use of such appliances have been known to save residential and commercial property owners approximately $300 billion on related utility bills.
Go Off Peak
When it comes time to do a load of laundry or run the dishes, run the appliances during off peak times. This taps in to the energy grid during times of lower usage and can save money for the savvy homeowner. Rather than run the dishwasher for a few dishes, wait until it is full before doing a load. In addition, unplugging items such as computers, televisions and toasters when not in use can reduce energy consumption. Simply using appliances and keeping them in good repair can help.
Look for Energy Leaks
Homeowners can save money while also performing regular maintenance tasks. Homeowners in older homes may need to address drafts around windows and doors. When homeowners properly insulate homes and seal air-leaks, they not only live in a more comfortable environment but help keep their home cool in the summer and warm during the winter. Home sealing is recommended by the EPA to improve the “envelope”...
For many home buyers, building a new construction property is a dream come true. It's an opportunity for them to fulfill the very core of the American dream — purchasing land and building upon it. Buyers can customize the features within their home, make selections that fit their own preferences and desires, and create a piece of the world that is completely theirs.
So for buyers who are looking to invest in a new construction property, Austin and other Texas communities are like heaven on earth. A recent report released by Trulia and published in the Dallas News notes that the homes being built in Dallas, Houston and Austin make up about 10 percent of all new construction properties in the country. Dallas and Houston are on pace to have 50,000 new homes built within the cities this year alone, with Austin on track for another 30,000 homes. This is nearly double the average number of new construction properties that have been built annually in the city during the last 30 years!
How is the New Construction Boom Impacting the Austin Market?
Reports of low housing inventory levels have been making the news across the country. While the inventory isn't nearly as much of a concern in Austin as it is in other booming metropolitan markets, such as Seattle and San Francisco, it has still presented buyers with plenty of frustrating challenges. Bidding wars, rising prices and increased commute times are just a few of the realities that home buyers are facing in the Austin market. Whether buyers are looking to buy near downtown Austin, or near the water in the Lakeway real estate market, they need to be prepared to put their best offers...
When searching neighborhoods for a new home, people often look for amenities like schools, shopping centers and area attractions for the members of their household. However, as any dog lover knows, pets have needs, too. Both Cedar Park and Leander have a few great places for dogs and their owners. Here are three of the best.
The Cedar Park Bark Park
There are dog parks, and then there is the Cedar Park Bark Park, which is almost like a resort for the dogs of Cedar Park residents. At the Bark Park, there are several major amenities such as a pond for dogs to play in, drinking fountains and even showers for the convenience of pet owners. Additionally, there are several different natural features in this five-acre park for dogs to play in and around plus a yearly festival for pet lovers to come and mingle.
Premier Pet Resort & Day Spa of Cedar Park
Cedar Park’s Premier Pet Resort is the go-to place for dog lovers that need a variety of services. Full-time groomers are on hand to do everything from a simple bath and nail trimming to a full cut and style as needed. There are a variety boarding services available as well, everything from doggie daycare to more long-term options for overnight or vacation stays. Dogs have access to TV and music to help them relax.
A trainer is on staff for pet owners that would like to enroll their animals in sessions. Best of all, particularly those who worry about their pets when they leave for vacation, the Premier Animal Hospital is close, next door to the spa itself. Treat your pets to a comfortable, relaxing and safe experience.
For many first-time home buyers, Austin is the perfect place to settle down. There's plenty of jobs, and the burgeoning tech industry is ensuring that there's more on the way. The cultural vibe is addicting, and people love to get together and hang out in the city's downtown areas. So, for those considering the move to homeownership, why not purchase real estate and make this your home for a while?
It is important for first-time buyers to know ahead of time that they will likely be faced with challenges in the Austin market. It's a competitive market right now, and it can sometimes be difficult to get an offer accepted when you're up against previous homeowners who may have accrued wealth from their previous real estate investment. In addition, demand for housing in Austin has caused prices to rise, which puts many first-time buyers in a position where the down payment can be a barrier to entry.
However, more and more renters are finding they can break into this market when they have a plan. With the right real estate team on your side, and with the right preparation, you're sure to find the perfect starter home in Austin. Here's the top 5 neighborhoods to consider for your home search:
The Austin Culture Map considers Anderson Mill to be one of the best neighborhoods in north Austin for first-time buyers. Situated by some of the great parks and trails in Austin, this neighborhood is a good choice for those who love to get outdoors and enjoy life. Homeowners also enjoy the fact that they are in a desirable, growing area for many home buyers, which helps increase their...
Unless a seller is fortunate enough to have a professional staff of groundskeepers and maintenance personnel, the aspect of curb appeal is something that most homeowners find themselves dealing with in some capacity when deciding to sell their home. Since buyers often equate curb appeal with actual quality and value, sellers who miss the mark when attempting to improve their home's curb appeal may find themselves experiencing depressed levels of buyer interest, longer market times, and lower purchase offers than a comparable home that buyers view more positively.
If you are preparing your home for sale and want to make sure it is as appealing as possible from the curb, the following information can help cure problem areas and maximize a home's appeal in today's real estate market.
Worried About First Impressions? Make Sure to Start With a Clean Slate
Much like when prepping the interior of a home, the lawns, gardens, flowerbeds, outbuildings, and hardscape areas also need to be clean, neat, and clutter-free in order to be attractive from the curb. Some suggestions to help with this include:
- keeping lawns mowed and trimmed, making sure to remove or mulch excess grass trimmings or leaves to keep the grass looking healthy and green
- feeding and aerating sparse lawns, as well as considering seeding them to help encourage healthy growth
- removing weeds from flowerbeds, window boxes, and planters, and replacing any dead or unhealthy plants to keep these areas looking colorful and lush
- putting away tools, garden hoses, trash cans, toys, and any excess items that create...
The city of Leander has no lack of cultural attractions to suit a variety of tastes. One of those attractions is the Mason Homestead. There are several reasons to visit this historic site — visitors can come for the historic significance, to stay a while and experience a piece of living history, and more. Let’s take an in-depth look at what the Mason Homestead has to offer.
History of the Homestead
The Mason Homestead was once a 300-acre plot owned by Charles C. Mason in the years after the American Civil War. Today, the homestead features 3 1/2 acres and it is a part of the Texas Century Farm registry. Originally built by Charles Mason’s father Alpheus S. Mason in 1866, this beautiful home gives people a look at Civil War era architecture. The home itself features Victorian styling with a double-galleried porch reminiscent of the colonial style.
Charles Mason himself was very active among the communities of Leander and Bagdad. Not only was he a church leader and businessman, but he was active in politics and in the Masonic order. No doubt the Mason Homestead served as a vital meeting place and community hub, much as it does today.
What to Do at the Homestead
This homestead features a variety of amenities including 1,260 square feet of interior space that can accommodate up to 49 people. There is also a kitchen for serving, though visitors are not able to cook. Two living rooms serve as entertaining space and a surround sound audio system lets hosts play music or other audio as needed for their event.
In addition to this, visitors will have a chance to see much of ...
Can you feel the heat in Austin? No, we're not talking about the stifling temperatures throughout the summer months. We're talking about the record-setting housing market that continues to show gains in just about every section of the city. Home buyers are facing competition at every corner, and sellers are enjoying significant returns as they look to upgrade to more luxurious properties in and around Austin. This hot market doesn't show any signs of slowing down, but there are several trends identified by the Community Impact Newspaper taking shape that may impact your home search in the city.
1. In the last 5 years, new home construction in the city has more than doubled.
The Austin Board of Realtors reported that just 167 homes were built in the central part of the city in 2011 — but by 2016, more than 550 homes were being built each year. By May of 2017, 255 homes had already been constructed, with plenty more in development for the rest of the calendar year.
New development is great news for potential home buyers, who are faced with a competitive market. Having the option to build or purchase a new construction home allows buyers to avoid the bidding wars that are taking place over existing homes and also gives them an opportunity to create the house that they want. City officials are encouraging this new construction as well. In April, the city council adopted a Strategic Housing Blueprint that calls for the creation of more than 135,000 housing units in the next decade. Outside of the city, areas like the Leander real estate market are growing...
Homeownership comes with a major responsibility: home maintenance. While renters can assume landlords will shoulder most of the burden, homeowners need to be willing and able to make the repairs themselves or pay for the work to be done by a licensed professional. The thing is, it costs money to maintain a home and even more when you want to hire someone else to do the repairs for you. Homeowners wanting to handle small maintenance issues and repairs themselves can save a significant amount of money. What tools do homeowners need to get started?
The typical homeowner can benefit from having and learning to use the following tools to maintain their home. Save money and tackle common home repairs with these common tools.
A Tape Measure
Make sure that you can properly size anything in or around the home. Do you want to get to Home Depot or Lowe’s and then realize later that what you ordered simply will not fit in a space? We thought not. The most useful tape measure is a 25-footer with a blade one inch in length. This inch prevents buckling and 25 feet can let you measure just about anything you may need.
During a power outage or camping trip, a flashlight comes in handy. An LED flashlight offers a powerful light source when investigating electrical issues or an unfamiliar noise. Keep one handy, as well as stock up on a few candles and matches, in preparation for any such issues.
A Utility Knife
This is an all-purpose tool to keep in your DIY kit. Use it to cut drywall, mark wood, cut away carpet edges, scrape away resin or paint and open packages. This is an inexpensive tool available as a blade that retracts into a handle or a system...
One of the things that makes Cedar Park a great place to live is the local business. In the restaurant sector, residents enjoy a wide variety of different flavors — cuisines of all kinds, traditional foods and there is even a lively fusion scene, bringing the best in modern eats to town. Let’s take a look at some of the most talked about restaurants in the area.
1. Blue Corn Harvest Bar & Grill
This is a restaurant where you will find local Southwestern cuisine at a great price. Featuring a patio, famous margaritas, a full-service bar and a private room, diners will always find something new to enjoy. Additionally, those that are interested in supporting local businesses will enjoy the fact that Blue Corn Harvest works hard to stock their kitchen and bar with local treats from Texas brew houses, wineries and farms.
Lovers of authentic Italian food will definitely want a table at Gino’s. This restaurant is run by Gino Minardi, originally from Gela, Italy. Since 1993, Gino’s has been a Cedar Park fixture, one that offers everything from pizza and pasta to seafood and fine wines.
3. Local Slice Pizza
Everyone needs a favorite local pizza joint and for people in Cedar Park, Local Slice Pizza is that joint. Local slice specializes in salads produced from organic ingredients as well as thin crust and New York style pizzas. There are two locations within Cedar Park, one on Cypress Creek Road and the other on North Vista Ridge Boulevard. The North Vista Ridge location also features a Ju Ju’s, which serves ice cream, sodas and other desserts.
4. The Dig Pub...
Everywhere you turn, somebody is talking about the Millennials, and it seems like most people doing the talking have a slightly sarcastic or condescending tone. They aren't really the group they're made out to be – times change, and generations adapt to the circumstances they are born into. Now, as they are climbing the ladder and planning for their future, they are facing additional challenges that can be difficult to overcome in certain parts of the country, such as achieving homeownership.
In Austin, many Millennials are having a hard time becoming homeowners due to the strength of the market. This is quite significant, as Millennials make up about 36 percent of the population in Austin, according to the Community Impact Newspaper.
Challenges in the Austin Housing Market
Austin is a growing city, which has increased both the price and the competition for real estate. As home prices have gone up, many Millennials are left in a position where there are few or no available homes in their price range. About 30 percent of the Millennials living in Austin have an annual salary of about $50,000, but many are also saddled with student loan debt that averages about $16,000. In most cases, they don't have the buying power of other older generations quite yet.
Their financing options are sometimes limited because of debt. Not only are many Millennials managing their student loan debt, but they may also need to finance large purchases like cars. An individual's debt-to-income ratio is analyzed before they are approved for a home loan, and because of this, some Millennials don't qualify.
Tips for Millennial Home Buyers in Austin...
Looking for ways to enjoy the outdoors in Cedar Park and Leander? Both of these cities offer numerous opportunities. Here is a quick list of some of the finest outdoor adventures that area residents will enjoy.
1. Lake Travis Zipline Adventure
For thrill seekers, the Lake Travis Zipline Adventure is certainly worth a look. This complex boasts the longest zipline in Texas with tours that last for three hours, swinging adventurers out over Lake Travis itself. With five different ziplines to try, once people get a taste of the high-flying action, they will doubtless return for another weekend of fun.
2. Brushy Creek Trail in Leander
Homeowners in Leander that enjoy a quieter experience will love the Brushy Creek Trail. This is a paved trail that winds its way along Brushy Creek, through Leander itself. Walking, hiking and biking are all encouraged and visitors will find restrooms, parks and other facilities along the way. Pack a picnic and plan to spend a day exploring the sights this trail has to offer.
3. Williamson County Southwest Regional Park
This park has something to offer just about everyone. Sports enthusiasts will find a football field, a track, disc golf, softball fields, several tennis courts, soccer fields and basketball courts — along with a playscape for younger children. There is also hiking available, a miniature train for those that would like to sit back and watch and a splashpad to cool off on hot summer days. With close to 800 acres, area residents can spend a large share of their weekends at the Williamson County Southwest Regional Park and still not discover all of the fun to be had!
4. Elizabeth Milburn Community Park
Like many parks, the Elizabeth Milburn Community Park...
There's a lot of benefits to living within the city limits of Austin. The growing population consists of many residents who have called Austin home for many years. The economy is strong and the jobs are plentiful, particularly in the tech sector, which is enjoying a notable expansion in the community. Large, luxurious homes are scattered throughout charming neighborhoods, each with their own authentic flavor and atmosphere.
In short, it's great to be living in Austin, but for many buyers, avoiding the higher prices of real estate in the city is a priority. Month after month, prices continue to rise and despite increasing inventory levels, many homes are still hard to catch. This is leaving an increasing number of buyers looking toward the suburbs – and they're liking what they see.
According to the Austin Culture Map, the suburbs are bursting at the seams, and seem to be endlessly growing as Austin becomes the strong epicenter of this part of Texas. However, the housing prices are still significantly more affordable than they are within the city limits. For buyers, this gives them the opportunity to get the same size home with all of the modern amenities, without paying the Austin price. They are still located within commutable distance from the city, and they get to discover the nuances of their own new hometown.
Buyers who are looking to the outlying suburbs should consider these facts and statistics about the various communities that surround Austin:
Located north of Austin, Georgetown is a quaint suburb of about 50,000 residents. Its historic atmosphere appeals to those who want to enjoy a quieter pace without leaving behind all of the big city amenities that Austin has to offer. The median...
Purchasing a home is a unique consumer experience. It’s not the same as purchasing just about any other product since you’re not able to “return it” like you would with, say, a smartphone. Because of the legal and financial process involved with transferring property, contingencies are imperative for both buyers and sellers alike.
Contingencies are contractual obligations the seller and buyer must fulfil prior to the close of escrow. Essentially, contingencies are a way “out” should one or more of them not be met by either party. They also serve as a form of consumer protection in the event the home inspection produces a report of any major issues.
So, what are the Different Types of Contingencies?
While not an exhaustive list, there are several common contingencies that are often included in the buyer-seller contract:
A frequent contingency, the home inspection requirement generally provides the buyer with at least one home inspection prior to and as a parameter for closing escrow. Based on negotiations with the seller, the buyer may request to have their own experts conduct the inspection.
This may be included as a part of the lenders requirement for loan approval. However, even if the purchase is a cash transaction, many buyers – particularly investors – seek to understand the differential between the appraisal and sales price.
Lenders will almost always research the property, including performing their own appraisal, prior to approving a buyer’s loan. Also, if for some other reason the loan does not go through, then the language of this contingency usually...
There are lots of great ways to spend the afternoon in the Cedar Park real estate market. The Austin Steam Train, operated by the Austin Steam Train Association, comes highly recommended. The Association’s goal is to preserve the history of steam engines and railroad technology from the steam era. In accomplishing this task, they’ve pressed trains in operation, allowing visitors to stop by and take a ride through history on any day of the week.
The Austin Steam Train Association: History and Facts
The ASTA’s train crews are fully staffed by trained volunteers who have a passion for railroad history. The Hill Country Flyer, which was the first historic train run by the ASTA, made its first journey on July 25, 1992, running between Cedar Park and Burnet.
A year later, a 16-acre rail yard within Cedar Park was created. Over the next seven years, the Hill Country Flyer traveled 60,000 miles between Cedar Park and surrounding areas. Today, that engine still runs between the Cedar Park Depot, the Bertram Depot and the Burnet Depot.
How to Get Involved
There are a few different ways to participate in the action with the Austin Steam Train Association. First, train rides are held most days of the week, year-round, which means residents and visitors to the area can always book a train ride. The ASTA also offers listings of hotels, fine restaurants and shopping opportunities at each of its depots, which means patrons can plan a day trip or even an overnighter around their train ride.
Currently, the Depot at Cedar Park is renovating a train car, turning it into a concession stand. In the near future, the new concession stand will open, giving visitors a convenient place to grab a bite to eat before setting off.
Locomotive enthusiasts can also apply to volunteer for the ASTA....
Real estate has long been heralded as one of the best investments to make, and it's one of the largest financial assets that many people have. Home sellers in Austin don't just want to sell – they want to sell high. The goal of most real estate transactions is to earn the most significant return possible while also securing a new home that fits your needs and desires.
The current market conditions in Austin are pretty much ideal for sellers. The average listing price is around $588,000, and home values have risen steadily over the last several months. Inventory is not as low as it is in other parts of the country, but there's an influx of buyers heading to the city for the powerful, high-paying tech jobs that are available. This means that move-in ready property is in high demand, and these buyers are willing to pay more to get what they want. And this isn't just for properties within the city – real estate markets such as Georgetown are feeling the effects as well.
So what's the best way to cash in on this hot real estate market? Well, how you prepare your home for the market makes a big difference. Here's a few tips to help you get top-dollar for your Austin property.
Update Rather than Renovate
It's true what they say, kitchens and bathrooms are the most valuable rooms in your house. However, if you haven't done a big renovation in the last few years, you may not feel up to the challenge right before listing. Don't worry, you can still refresh these important rooms to improve your value without breaking the bank. Replace old light fixtures with new ones that align with current trends. Paint or stain...
There is a mixture of excitement and a bit of anxiety when purchasing a home. Paperwork, loan qualifications, purchase offers, and the escrow process all need to be navigated with a keen eye for detail. Add to this the maintenance and repair responsibilities that home ownership requires, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
With this in mind, the importance of a home inspection prior to purchase cannot be overstated. A thorough examination of a home’s condition can make or break a home sale and is a primary contingency for many mortgage lenders – issues such as a poor foundation or damaged roof can seriously alter the course of the deal when uncovered. Real estate agents and brokers often have specific home inspectors they’ve successfully worked with in the past. However, it’s important for both the buyer and seller to understand how home inspectors are regulated in the specific U.S. state where the property is located.
Research Your State's Rules
Each state has individual requirements for the training and certification for home inspectors. Some states, such as California, do not require a home inspector to be licensed. This does not mean, however, that home inspectors are free from regulation. In fact, the California Trade Practices Act (Chapter 338) expressly regulates home inspection activities. Furthermore, the California Contractors State License Board has oversight regarding home inspectors.
In contrast, home inspectors in states such as Nevada are required to be licensed through the Real Estate Division of the Department of Business & Industry. To earn a license, potential Nevada home inspectors must have:
- 40 hours of education
- 25 hours of inspections observed by a certified general or master inspector...