Monthly Archives: October 2014

Featured Subdivision – West Cave Estates

This week, we’re featuring a highly desirable neighborhood in Dripping Springs/SW Austin, West Cave Estates. Our team has consistently listed homes in this area and we love helping people buy and sell their homes in this great neighborhood!

11204 West Cave

One of the Mallett Integrity Team’s most recent listings in West Cave Estates

West Cave Estates is located between Bee Cave and Dripping Springs on Hamilton Pool Road made up of 318 lots in three sections. Most lots in West Cave Estates are approximately 1-1.5 acres, but some are as 4 acres with homeowners owning multiple lots. As part of the HOA, the social committee of West Cave Estates provides the community with lots of community events throughout the year. Opportunities to experience the outdoors about in this area as well. There’s also a large, one acre park for residents to enjoy, and just a few miles down Hamilton Pool Rd you can experience one of the areas most well known natural beauties, Hamilton Pool, or visit West Cave Preserve for hiking & watching wildlife.

Hamilton Pool - Dripping Springs TX

Hamilton Pool, Dripping Springs TX

For those that are interested in shopping and city life, you’re only about 5 minutes to the Bee Cave Galleria and many other shops and restaurants, and just 20 minutes from Austin.

Hill Country Galleria Free Concerts - Bee Cave TX

Hill Country Galleria in Bee Cave hosts several free concerts throughout the year

Since this community straddles the Hays & Travis County line, some students in West Cave Estates attend Lake Travis ISD schools, and others attend Dripping Springs ISD schools. Both schools are highly rated, making this area a popular option for home buyers.

Looking to buy or sell your home in West Cave Estates, or just want to know more about the area and what the market is doing in Dripping Springs/SW Austin? Contact one of our local area experts. We’d love to help you with any of your real estate needs.  Click here to see all homes listed in West Cave Estates. 

The Austin Housing Bubble – Myth vs. Fact

BUZZ VS. FACT
There’s been some buzz about what some are calling the “Austin housing bubble” lately. But is the Austin real estate market really a housing bubble? And, if so, is this bubble is poised for a crash? The economic experts say, “no,” and here’s why. Real estate bubbles are driven by speculation. Prices rise not because demand for housing is increasing, but because buyers believe prices will continue to rise in the near future, increasing the value of their investment and presenting the potential to “flip” properties quickly. That type of speculation is not Austin’s current housing demand.

POPULATION AND JOB GROWTH: KEYS TO A HEALTHY MARKET
In Austin today, housing demand is being driven by population growth. According to Austin City Demographer Ryan Robinson, there are 110 people moving to the Austin area everyday and our unemployment rate in August 2014 was 4.6 percent, which is 1.5 percent below the national average.

Austin Housing Bubble Myth or Fact?Our population is growing and new residents have jobs, which means demand for homes is increasing. And, as we know, prices rise with demand, especially when supply is low, like it is here. Population growth and job growth have always been the foundations of a healthy market and those two factors – not speculation – are driving price increases in Austin real estate.

LENDING STANDARDS HAVE CHANGED
Due to the housing crash last decade, lending standards for homeowners are some of the most stringent seen in recent years, so only those who can afford a home have access to the financing to buy it.

S Congress St Bridge AustinSO, IS AUSTIN OVERVALUED? NO!
Recent reports paint an incomplete picture of the Austin market. They use only ratios comparing income to rents or home prices, leaving out the two key variables of job growth and population growth. Without understanding how increased population and availability of jobs affects demand for real estate, a market can’t be properly valued.

TALK TO YOUR REALTOR®
In short, the price increases seen for Austin-area real estate in recent years are driven by increased demand among those who want to live in our great city, not unfounded speculation. That makes them part of a healthy real estate market. 

Our team of real estate experts would be happy to talk with you about your options and help you decide what’s best for you in your current housing situation given our current market. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or call 512-829-2062.

Download the full PDF version of this article from the Austin Board of Realtors® here.

ABOUT THE AUSTIN BOARD OF REALTORS®
The Austin Board of REALTORS® builds connections through the use of technology, education and advocacy to strengthen the careers of its 9,000+ members and improve the lives of Central Texas families.The Austin Board of REALTORS® empowers Austin REALTORS® to connect their clients to the region’s most complete, accurate and up-to-date listings data. For more, visit AustinHomeSearch.com.

How to Buy a Home in 6 Easy Steps

How to Buy a Home in 6 Easy Steps

1) Get Ready for Home Ownership

  • Build a good credit history
  • Get mortgage pre-approval
  • Find out what type of mortgages you quality for
  • Consider hiring an attorney to review all contracts and agreements associated with the home buying process
  • Save up for a down payment (typically 10-20% of property’s value; if FHA-qualified, then possibly less)
    • Consider closing costs which can include taxes, attorney’s fees, and transfer fees
    • Consider utilities and monthly bills, such as homeowner’s assessments

2) Find a Real Estate Professional

  • Get a referral from friends, family, and work colleagues, or search realtor.com® and look for real estate yard signs and advertisements
  • Ask the real estate professionals you interview about buyer’s representation contracts and agreements; make sure you understand the terms
  • Explain your needs and expectations to the real estate professional you choose to work with

3) Find the Right Property

  • Determine what is important to you, such as particular schools, neighborhood amenities, monthly mortgage payment, public transportation, walkability, etc.
  • Make sure you include home owner’s assessments, utilities, and taxes when calculating the monthly mortgage payment

4) Finance the Property

  • Contact your mortgage broker or lender
  • The lender or attorney will run a title search to ensure there are no clouds on the title
  • Make sure you understand the financing terms—ask the lender for clarification, if needed

5) Make an Offer

  • Ensure the property is inspected by a licensed home inspector
  • Acquire title insurance
  • Make sure the title is clear, or make your offer contingent upon title clearance
  • Read all contracts before signing—make sure you understand all of the terms, ask questions
  • Place a competitive bid and be prepared to make a counter-offer
  • Keep your credit score stable and in-check by waiting to purchase any big-ticket items until long after the closing
  • Only one offer will result in a sale, so be prepared to move on if your offer is not accepted

6) Closing and Life After the Big Purchase

  • Protect your new asset by obtaining insurance such as homeowner’s, flood, disaster, and fire
  • Weatherproof your new home
  • Maintain files—digital or print—for all warranties, insurance documents, contracts, etc.
  • Keep original closing documents in a safe place, preferably outside the home (such as a safety deposit box)
  • Set up utilities bills in your name, maintain files
  • Implement desired aesthetic changes such as painting, minor construction, and re-flooring
  • Set a move date and hire movers or plan a move party with your friends
  • Get to know your neighbors and explore your new neighborhood
  • If you’re happy with the work of your real estate professional, be sure to recommend her/him to friends and family

Ready to buy a home in the Dripping Springs or Southwest Austin area? The Mallett Integrity Team specializes in this area, is connected to the community, knows the market here, and we even live here ourselves! Don’t trust one of your biggest investments to just anyone – contact us and see how we can help you!

Mortgage Rates are Down – What does that mean for you?

The Facts: Mortgage Rates Are Down

Earlier this year, it was anticipated that rates would be higher now than they are.  However, despite a slight increase in rates over the summer, the current rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 4.19 percent according to Freddie Mac.

What is the mystery behind these historically low rates and what does this mean if you’re looking to buy or sell now?

mortgage-rates-v2

The aha: Don’t Wait to Buy or Sell. Rates Are Expected to Rise

Mortgage rates are more than just the interest rate on a homeowner’s mortgage. Understanding how they are determined and what affects them can help your clients make more informed real estate decisions. Many people think mortgage rates are controlled by the Federal Reserve and can be arbitrarily turned up or down at any given time. While the Fed affects the rates, it does not act alone. Here are the five main factors that affect mortgage rates:

1. Federal Reserve Policy.  There are two actions the Fed can take that affect interest rates.  First, the Federal Reserve can change the Federal Funds Rate by altering short-term treasury securities investment levels. When the Fed purchases more bonds, mortgage rates tend to go down and vice versa.  When the Fed talks about raising interest rates, they are talking about the Federal Funds Rate, which is the rate banks charge each other to borrow money (known more commonly as interbank lending). Currently the Federal Funds Rate is practically at zero percent and has been there for a while. The Fed has stated that this rate is likely to rise within the next year.

The second action the Fed takes that affects interest rates is the purchasing of assets, such as long-term treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities, which historically has not been part of monetary policy. However, the Fed has been slowly reducing its purchases of these types of assets and has stated it will cease all purchase activities next month.

2. Bond and Treasury Investments. Bond purchases are not exclusive to the Federal Reserve. Private investors can also purchase bonds. When more bonds are purchased, prices rise and the yield (the amount of return an investor will realize on a bond) goes down. This matters because mortgages are essentially bonds and their rates compete with the rates of other investments. If the interest rate on bonds decreases, that downward pressure is applied to mortgage rates and they fall as well. Recent increased purchases of these short-term investments are likely due in part to the volatility in foreign markets, which is driving funds into U.S. treasuries, thus lowering the yield. As global affairs stabilize, money is likely to move out of U.S. markets and drive interest rates up.

3. Mortgage-Backed Securities. A mortgage-backed security is an investment tied to mortgages. Private banks sell mortgages to Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs), which then bundle multiple loans and sell them to investors as mortgage-backed securities. These long-term investments affect the market because as demand increases, banks have incentive to create more supply, which puts downward pressure on interest rates.

4. Housing Market Activity. When the housing market is strong, there is more demand for home loans and banks can charge higher rates. This is a classic example of supply and demand. The current housing market is balanced and healthy with indicators pointing toward more development in the future.

5. Current U.S. Economic Climate. When the economy is strong, people have more money to spend. Slow economic activity at the beginning of 2014 coupled with the fact that inflation levels remain below the target of 2 percent, have likely had some downward effect on mortgage rates by boosting the real return of given nominal rates. The economy is expected to continue a steady pace for the remainder of 2014.

Although it may be tempting to wait for rates to fall, there is no guarantee they will. Historically, rates have been much higher and most indicators suggest they will rise soon. Compared with the average 30-year rate from 1990-2004 of 6.7 percent, 4.1 percent doesn’t look bad. Although there are no guarantees, evaluating and understanding the five factors above will allow you to provide an informed prediction as to which way interest rates will shift.

Taken from http://blog.kw.com/2014/10/06/mortgage-rates-are-down-what-does-that-means-for-your-clients-q3-2014/ View the full article here.