How To Choose a Home Inspector

I would never recommend that you purchase a home without first getting that home inspected. You’re making a huge investment and not just a financial one. You’re also going to move your family into this home and you want to make sure that home is dependable and safe for the people that you care about to live in. But what should you look for when choosing the right person to inspect your potential investment? In this episode, Episode #19 of “Real Estate, Real Answers,” I’m going to share with you what makes a good inspector and, at the end, I’ll show you how to find the right inspector for you.

The first thing I think of when I think of a good home inspector is someone who is trustworthy and thorough. You’re making a big investment, probably thousands of dollars into this home that you’re buying. You want to make sure that it’s a good financial decision and that it’s a safe and dependable home for you to move your family into. For that reason, a good home inspector is first trustworthy and thorough. But how do you know if he’s trustworthy or thorough in his work? Well, you can ask for recommendations and look at reviews but I’ll go into more depth and share with you how to pick the right inspector in the end.

The second thing that makes a really good home inspector is someone who can help you understand the difference between a major issue and a minor issue. A good home inspector will do more than just email you his or her report when that inspection is done. He might meet you at the property or another location or maybe have a phone conference with you and explain that report to you, answer any questions and help you understand what are those major and those minor issues. Some issues can be insignificant like maybe a small building code change that happened since the home was built (he has to report all of those) or an issue could be a significant issue that you really want to have addressed and taken care of if you’re gonna move forward and purchase that home. Knowing the difference in major and minor issues is really important because when you’re negotiating for repairs with a seller you want to focus on the items that really matter and not waste time on insignificant or small items that will distract and probably prevent you from getting those major issues taken care of.

A third thing that can make a really good home inspector is someone who can do multiple types of home inspections. When you’re purchasing a home and getting inspected there are a lot of different reports and inspections that you can have done. Some you might want to have a specialist for but others are fine to have one inspector do all of those different reports. The inspector who can do multiple types of home inspections might have a broader base of experience and understand how the different systems in a home all work together. Also, you can save time and money by having one company do multiple inspections. Usually, they will give you a slight discount when you order more than one inspection and you also save time and stress by not having to coordinate with different inspectors to get each one into the home and inspect it at different times and to get them access to the home.

Those are the three things that I think make a really good home inspector, but I told you at the end that I would share with you how to find the right home inspector for you.  First I would suggest asking your real estate agent for recommendations. They’ve usually worked with a lot of different inspectors, seen a lot of different reports and developed a level of trust and dependability with certain home inspectors. They or maybe friends or family who have also gotten home inspections can usually give you a recommendation of a good home inspector.

The second thing to do to find the right home inspector for you is to ask WHY. When someone gives you a recommendation for a home inspector ask them why they’re recommending that person. It could be something simple like they’re a friend or a family member (that’s not really important) but it could be something significant like the reports or the way that they interacted with that inspector that was extremely valuable to them. Knowing why will really help you to pick the right home inspector and sometimes the reason that an inspector is good for someone else will help you know that that person might not be the right person for you. People value different things and what someone else might value in a home inspector might not match what’s important to you.

The third thing to do to find a good home inspector is to look at online reviews. Online reviews can be helpful but should be taken with a grain of salt. Usually, the people that do online reviews are people who are either really happy or know a home inspector or maybe had a terrible experience. When you look at online reviews, often you’re getting people on both ends of the spectrum and not hearing from all the people in the middle who had just a normal everyday experience with that inspector. So just understand that when you’re looking at those reviews you might not be getting a full picture of the work that inspector does.

Anyways, I hope this Real Answers been helpful for you! I’m Kyle Pfaffe, local Austin-area REALTOR and certified Texas First Time Homebuyer Specialist. Through professional and exceptional service, I focus on helping homeowners sell their homes for the most money they can net and helping home buyers purchase the “most house” for the least amount of money!

If you have a question, concern or need that I can help with, contact me and I’d be happy to help any way I can!

By your Texas REALTOR, Kyle Pfaffe

512.636.9707   kpfaffe@cityscapepg.com

Home for Lease in Austin’s Colony

15205 Bullace - Final Lease Picture

15205 Bullace St, Austin, TX 78724

Home for rent in Austin’s Colony! This three bedroom home has an open floorplan and two full bathrooms. This mother-in-law plan also give plenty of privacy! Living room also has a fireplace. Spacious backyard with plenty of room for you to relax or give your pets a place to play! Contact me to set up your private showing to see it today!

Get More Info and Setup Your Private Showing NOW!

By Kyle PfaffeREALTOR® e: KPfaffe@cityscapepg.com

m: 512-636-9707 w: MoveSmartAustin.com

Tips to Buy a House (And Win BIG!)

See More Tips to BUY SMART

Welcome to Real Estate Real Answers Episode #15! I’m Kyle Pfaffe, local Austin area real estate agent, and if you have your own question, enter it in the comments below or contact me and I’ll make sure to answer it. If you’re thinking about buying a house right now, but – eh – maybe you’ll find one, maybe you won’t, this video is not for you. But if your goal is not just to maybe find a home but to buy a home right now and WIN BIG, then this video is just for you! Today I’m going to share with you four tips to buy a home right now and win big. Plus, at the end, I’ll share with you one tip to always make your offer stand out to sellers.

The first tip to buy a home right now and win big is to be very specific with your search. Know exactly what home you’re looking for, how many bedrooms, how many bathrooms, the layout, floorplan, 1 story or 2 story, the finishes, the neighborhood, the school district, and the size of the yard. All of those things are very important to be very specific in your search so you know what you’re looking for. Why is that important? Well, do you want to waste time going and looking at a home that you would never purchase – that would never be the one that you would want to live in and potentially miss out on a home that is the right one for you? Well, if you put in the work before you start your search and be very specific for what you are looking for, you can spend all of your time looking at the homes that are right for you and not waste any time on the homes that are not.

That leads us right into the second tip to help you buy a house and win big
and that’s to MOVE QUICK. When you have been very specific for what home you are looking for, you can move very quickly when you find that house. When you find it, don’t wait until the weekend to go and see that home – don’t wait for the open house. Go and look at it right away. Don’t waste any time. And when you find that perfect house, make an offer right away. Don’t rush to a decision, but once you are sure it is the right home, make that offer right away.  If you do that, you can potentially get your offer in and accepted before other offers come in and make it a multiple offer situation or maybe you can get your offer in before the open house when other buyers have a chance to see that home and beat you to that house.

The single biggest variable to your success buying a home is HUSTLE. If you really want to find a house and you want to win big, you have to work hard. You have to put the work in up front to make sure that you are only looking at the right houses. You have to go and look at that house right away when it comes on the market. You have to put your offer in right away, but all of that stuff, YOU CAN CONTROL! If you put that work in, you can win! That same tip applies for buyers or sellers. Sellers, if you are willing to put the work in, you can get more money for your house. You can sell quicker. You can sell with better terms. But you have to put the work in. If you do that, no matter what, you can WIN!

The third tip is to be persisitent. If you’ve looked at a lot of homes, but haven’t
found the right one, don’t give up! Stick to the plan that you have of narrowing your search and looking at the right homes and you will find the right home for you! Maybe you’ve lost out on some multiple offers or you haven’t gotten your offer in on time. Keep being persistent looking for those homes, make the offer and if you do that, you’ll find the right home and you’ll win!

The fourth tip is to buy for value. The frenzy of this market can drive some people to do crazy things, but not YOU! You’re going to buy for value! You’re going to make sure that even if it is a multiple offer situation, even if you have to move quickly, that you are buying for value. That means that you’re not overpaying for a house.

Now I told you at the end I would give you one tip to always make your offer stand out to sellers, and that is to make your offer with a three day option period. That really stands out to sellers because if they take their home off the market becuase they accepted your contract and are not going to consider any offers, that short time period means that if it doesn’t work out with you, they can get their home right back out on the market for someone else. For you, you can make a three-day option period work if you have already been working with your inspector to make sure that your inspection is scheduled for the first day after the contract has been accepted. That gives you enough time to do your due diligence on the home and make sure it is right for you and negotiate repairs and it is a huge win for the sellers as well and makes your offer stand out!

If you have a real estate question that you would like answered, put that in the comments below and I will answer it! I hope these four tips can help you buy a home and win big! Thanks for checking out episode 15 – this is Real Estate and that is the REAL ANSWER! If you are considering a move in the Austin area, contact me because I help people like you move smart.

How Accurate is My Zillow Estimate in Austin?

Today I’m answering the question, “How accurate is the the Zillow estimate for my home in Austin?” Zillow’s home value estimator computes an estimated market value for your home based on a proprietary formula using public and private data – they call it a Zestimate (that’s a fun word to say!). In Febuary, the Zillow’s CEO sold his home – how close do you think his Zestimate was? Think about it for a minute and I’ll give you the answer in below.

Anyways, sometimes you visit Zillow to find out your home’s value just because it’s fun to imagine how much you could sell your house for and how much extra money you could put in your pocket even though you have no intention of selling. Other times you could be seriously thinking about selling your home in the Austin area and need the right information.

Can you trust that number? How accurate is it? The simple answer is that your Zestimate is probably wrong by a significant amount and putting too much faith in the sales price it gives you is dangerous. Zillow’s own fine print and reports support this. More than 60% of Zestimates are off by more than 5% and 40% are off by more than 10%! Your home’s actual value could be much higher or much lower than the number you get on Zillow. For my home, Zillow gave a number with a margin of error of $50,000 higher or lower! That’s not helpful at all!

In fact, Spencer Rascoff, the CEO of Zillow sold his home in Febuary for $700,000 less than his Zestimate – a 40% difference! ($1,750,000 to $1,005,000, 40% – do math on side). Zestimates can be so far off because they don’t have specific information. Zillow hasn’t visited your neighborhood or seen the kitchen or bathroom update you just put in so they might price your house too low. They also don’t know about that new prison that was just built behind your friend’s house that is dragging that neighborhood’s value down.

So how can you use a Zestimate? It is a tool that can help increase your real estate awareness and give you as a homeowner public access to some information. However, it can kind of be like guessing the number of gumballs in a jar – you know the jar is big and the candy is small but how many exactly are in there is anybody’s guess. If you really need to know the value of your home, don’t take your Zestimate at face value and contact a real estate pro like me. He or she can give you a pretty good idea or your home’s value in a short amount of time.

Anyways, I hope this REAL ANSWER has been helpful for you. If you are thinking of selling your home, you should contact me because I help people like you move smart and sell for more money.

Avoid Buying a Bad House in Austin

You probably know someone who has been duped or tricked before. That’s why you probably have had this eerie feeling/thought in the back of your mind – something doesn’t seem right. Am I going to buy a “bad” house? What is the seller hiding? What is the listing agent hiding? What am I missing? Is there something wrong with this house that I can’t see? What am I missing that is going to cause a nightmare for me in the future?

I help people like you move smart. My job is to protect buyers like you, help them avoid the house they’ve seen(woke up in) in their nightmares and buy the house of their dreams. How can you know you’re not buying a bad house? I recommend three steps to help you avoid buying a lemon of a house.

  1. Visual Inspection. As you are walking through a house, maybe at an open house or showing, look for clues that can tip you off to bigger issues. Small cracks in the walls, ceiling or floor could indicate foundation problems. Spots on the ceiling or marks down a wall could be from water damage. Dirty intake vents could mean the AC system hasnt’ been properly taken care of and needs to be serviced. An overly dirty house could mean an owner hasn’t taken good care of the home in general. None of these automatically mean there are issues but they can point to hidden issues or things you should have checked out.
  2. Check with your Insurance Agent. When you are getting a quote for homeowners insurance, your agent can usually pull a report that shows most claims the current seller has made. For claims that show up, you should check with the seller to verify how the problems were addressed. For example, if a home had water damage from a broken toilet that flooded a bathroom, how did the seller clean up and fix that issue? Your insurance agent can be a huge help. In the notes below is the info for an agent I recommend.
  3. Home Inspection. After you make an offer on a house and the seller accepts, you have what’s called an “option period” to have the house inspected by professionals. General home inspections, termite inspections and foundation inspections are common. You can take their reports, go back to the seller and ask for them to fix certain things. If you can’t agree on repairs, you can walk away from the deal and save most of your money.

A healthy fear of buying a bad house is a good thing – it can make you careful and cautious. If you are thinking about making a move in the Austin area, contact me because I help people like you move smart and avoid the mountain of headaches and the black hole of expenses that can come with buying the wrong house. You can also submit your email address in the column to the right to make sure you get all the tips, tools and advice to help you MOVE SMART.

By Kyle PfaffeREALTOR® e: KPfaffe@cityscapepg.com

m: 512-636-9707 w: MoveSmartAustin.com

When Is the Best Time to Sell?

Selling your home at the right time could mean you’re moving with an extra $20,000 in your pocket. You know you’re going to sell this year, but knowing when to do that is crucial! Today I’m going to share with you when is the best time to sell your home, but first I’m going to tell you how one family sold smart, timed it right and won big! I was really excited to be working with a family who had outgrown their home and needed to find a bigger place to raise their children. When we met at their home, I knew we could list and sell their home right away, but they would be leaving money on the table. If we waited just a little bit and fixed up a few things in their house, they could sell their home and make the move with a lot more money than they expected. So we developed a plan to make their home more valuable and appealing buyers and determined the ideal time to sell their home to get them the best price. In the end, our plan was a huge success and together we sold their home for $20,000 more than they believed they could! Being able to see this all work out for them and seeing how happy they were is why I love my work! What would you do with an extra $20,000 you could make by selling your home at the right time?

To know when is the best time to sell, we need to look at three trends. We need to understand trends for the number of other homes available and sold each month (SUPPLY & DEMAND), how fast homes sell (VELOCITY) and how much homes sell for compared to the list price (VALUE).

SUPPLY & DEMAND – Number of Homes Available & Sold

Over time, we can see a trend where the number of homes for sale is greatest in June and July and fewest in December and January. This means that if you are selling your home, you have the most competition for buyers in the summer and the least competition in the middle of the winter. The number of homes sold each month will show us demand – more homes sold means more buyers buying. This trend is similar to supply – it usually peaks in June or July and is the lowest in January. Since it usually takes 30-45 days to close, we can assume that the number of buyers actively looking for a home like yours is a little ahead of this curve. The greatest demand is in May and June and the lowest demand is in November and December.

VELOCITY – How Fast Homes Sell

Knowing that supply and demand go up and down at the same time, you might expect the rate at which homes sell to be pretty consistent – WRONG! Homes are on the market for the least amount of time in April and May and that number gradually increases through the Summer and Fall, peaking during the holiday months. Remember the length of time it takes to close a home – 30-45 days – that means that homes that sell the fastest are probably listed for sale in March or April and close in April or May. I’m guessing you can start to see all the information coming together, but let’s look at one last thing.

VALUE – How Much Homes Sell For Versus List Price

The ratio of a home’s sale price to the price the owners listed it for is in some ways a combination of all the numbers we already looked at – supply, demand and velocity. Over the past few years, sellers are accepting the lowest offers compared to their listing price in January. That ratio climbs sharply to peak in April, declines slightly through the summer and then drops off in the fall.

I’m sure you’re a smart seller and can see the answer for yourself. They seem to indicate that the best time to sell your home to get the most amount of money is in March or April. The number of homes for sale is starting to grow but the number buyers looking at homes like yours is growing much faster – many people want to beat the summer rush. As a result, homes are selling faster and closer to their list price.

If you are thinking about selling, you really need to know how these trends are reflected in just your neighborhood. I made a FREE GUIDE for figuring out the best time for your neighborhood and included a few extra warnings about things to avoid. You can receive that for free by clicking HERE.

If you are at all thinking about selling your home and want to do this the smart way and make sure you get the most money you can, give me a call and I can show you how you could make that extra $20,000 on the sale of your home. Even if you have no choice about when you sell your home, there are other things you can do to make sure you get the most value.

Anyways, I hope this REAL ANSWER can make you a smarter homeowner. Enter your email in the column to the right to sign up to receive more REAL ANSWERS because the right answer can help you no matter when you decide to sell your home. You can also submit your own questions for me to answer. This is Real Estate and that’s the REAL ANSWER!

Austin Market Update – July 2016

Rather watch than read? Click the Image for the video!
Rather watch than read? Click the Image for the video!

The Austin Board of Realtors just released the official numbers for the month of July and in the City of Austin, the average sales price hit $345,000 in July 2016, a 4.6 percent increase from last year, while the number of homes sold in July declined by 7.3 percent. Housing inventory rose slightly from 2.1 months in July 2015 to 2.4 months in July 2016 and homes spent four more days on the market than the previous year.

What do those numbers mean? Well, home values in Central Texas continue to increase, which is great news for homeowners, but I believe those rising prices are starting to have cooling effect on the number of homes sold because of affordability. Home buyers, especially first time home buyers are being pushed further and further from Central Austin because they can’t afford the high prices. This will effect demand in Austin which should slow rising home values in Austin.
If you want to know more about the market in Williamson County, check out this post. If you have any questions about real estate or are thinking of buying a home, drop me a note or call me and I’d be happy to help!