Austin’s Real Estate Dilemma: Why Buying Real Estate in Austin, TX Has Become Nearly Impossible Unless…

Why It’s Becoming a Challenge for First-Time Buyers

In recent years, the process for first time buyers looked like this: Very straightforward.

First, get approved for a loan. 

Secondly, decide if you’d like to offer on resale homes, new construction – to be built, or new construction – already constructed.

Thirdly, make your offer.

Resale sellers were fielding zero to one or two offers and willing to accept listing price terms from qualified buyers using loans. They weren’t seeing many full price cash offers. They were renegotiating sales price terms if appraisals were coming in less than asking price in our slightly increasing market.

Now, there is as little available for resale as we’ve ever seen (see graph below). Buyers are having to increase their offers significantly above list price. They are needing to increase their downpayment amounts to compete with cash-heavy out-of-state buyers. Buyers are having to waive their right to terminate the contract if appraisals are falling short in this new rapidly price-increasing market.

Almost all new construction communities were allowing buyers to enter into contracts on homes to be built in the future with relative ease. 

Now buyers are jumping on the bottoms of waitlists with dozens of other buyers just hoping to land a future lot. Or they are entering the lot-bidding lottery…where lots are released 5-7 at a time and buyers throw highest and best offers, just to secure the lot. 

Completed new construction inventory was a way for buyers to walk into brand new homes, tour their eventual home on the spot and make their offer.

Now, zero, if any, completed new construction inventory even exists at this time.

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Bonalife Homes’ Agent Aaron Washington poses with first-time home buyers, January 2021.

Why It’s Becoming a Challenge for Move-Up Buyers Needing to Sell First

Buyers looking to sell their property and move up into other resale inventory was an easy transaction. We’d list their home first, find their buyer, all while helping them choose their next home to time up closing dates without much issue at all.

Now resale homeowners have so much leverage, they are choosing to work with buyers mentioned above who aren’t contingent upon selling a property, instead of buyers who will be needing to sell to procure bank financing.

Move-up buyers were able to go under contract on new construction that was to-be-completed, even with a property needing to be sold. Before construction completion, they would pick out a lot, start the building process, and sell their home as construction completion nears.

Now, many builders are no longer choosing to enter contracts with contingent move-up buyers needing to sell another property until partial construction completion has occurred – and often by that time, another non-contingent buyer has already scooped up the property.

And just like first-time buyers, move up buyers are struggling to find completed new construction anywhere as they’ve all been scooped up.

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Bonalife Homes’ Agent Bernaddette Schepperly poses with first-time home buyers, December 2020.

This might have you wondering – how the heck do we move then?

Keep reading…

Best Case Scenarios:

  1. Cash Buyer – why wait for financing to finalize as a seller if you can sell it to someone for cash and remove the appraisal and third party financing from the situation? Having cash is the most likely way to secure the property you want. 
  1. Financing Non-Contingent Upon the Sale of Property – if possible, selling first for top dollar, spending time in temporary space (short term rental, stay with family) and then making your purchase could remove the sale contingency from your offer.
  1. Take Advantage of Your Realtor Relationship – with the right Realtor in place, you should 
  • be able to learn about sell-before-buy cash programs
  • be able to leverage their builder relationships to get to the front of new construction opportunity before others
  • be able to leverage their realtor relationships to gain access to resale inventory before other buyers
  • be able to structure your offers terms competitively to stand out in a crowded market of buyers making offers.
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Testimonials provided by clients who have sold their home with Bonalife Homes recently.

Every situation is different.

Set a time to talk with our team HERE about your specifics and let’s build the ideal plan for your family.

How to Decorate Your Home for Christmas

Wondering how to decorate your home for Christmas? Whether you’re hosting a holiday party or you’ve moved into your own place for the first time, we’re here to help you deck the halls! With many ways to elevate your home space, here are some ways to make your home more cozy for the holidays.

served table with tasty food near christmas tree at home
Photo by Any Lane on Pexels.com

1.) Add Natural & Rustic Decorations Throughout Your Home

Try adding some natural details throughout your home such as twigs, pine cones, wood and wreaths throughout your home. Other decorations such as garlands, mistletoe, seasonal flower will add so much life to your home. By adding different natural elements, this will help your home look festive for Christmas.

gold and red baubles on white surface
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2.) Add Candles Throughout Your Home

Filling up your living space with beautiful scented candles everywhere will not only warm up the space but give the home a festive fragrance. Not only will it look festive but you’ll elevate your guests senses with beautiful scents. There’s no such things as too many candles!

selective focus photography of candles
Photo by Valeria Boltneva on Pexels.com

3.) Cozy Pillows & Throw Blankets

Add some texture to your home decor by utilizing blankets, pillows and throws throughout your home to help make your living space warm and cozy. Experiment with different fabrics, textures and elements on your couches and chairs.

happy black family enjoying christmas holidays at home
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4.) Add a Mantel to Home Decor

Adding a mantel is a very simple and easy way to spruce up your space for the holidays. Make sure you fill your mantel up with candles and natural elements around such as Christmas flowers and pine cones!

woman decorating a chocolate cake with powdered sugar
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5.) Buy a Christmas Tree

Last but not least, buying a Christmas tree is the easiest & quickest way to add that Christmas charm to your home! Remember to layer it with plenty of ornaments and decorations. You can also place all of your gifts underneath the Christmas tree.

banquet table with burning candles near christmas tree
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How will you be decorating your home for Christmas this year? Let us know!

4 Steps In Finding Your Dream Home

Finding a new home can be a very overwhelming task. In fact, purchasing a home will probably be one of the biggest expenses you will have to make. Whether you’re a first time buyer or and experienced home buyer, there are a few things you should should take into consideration when it comes to starting your home search!

Here are a few easy steps to organize your priorities and choose your dream home in confidence:

1. Prioritize Your Location

Narrowing down which neighborhoods you are interested in moving into is very important! The cost of living is different everywhere, so choosing the top neighborhoods and city is very important before starting the home shopping process. Once your location has been chosen, from there you’ll have an idea of how much housing usually costs.

bird s eye view of three houses
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2. Determine Your Budget

Once you’ve narrowed down your location, discussing your budget is very important. Determining your max whether you’re buying a home for $350,000 or $500,000 will narrow down the amount of homes to look at. New homes go live on the MLS all the time, so your real estate agent will look at homes that will match your budget.

calculator and notepad placed over stack of usa dollars
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3. Decide What Home Features Are Necessary

Are carpets a deal breaker? Is the backyard not big enough? What are the must-haves when it comes to your future ideal home. Making a list with what you aren’t willing to pay for will help you even more in narrowing down your home search.

white wooden cupboards
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4. Meet With A Real Estate Agent

Once you have set your budget, must-have and location set, now it’s the right time to reach out to a licensed real estate agent. They will help you explain the whole home searching and home buying process. Happy shopping!

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Why Do You Need A Real Estate Agent?

Buying a house is one of the biggest investments you can ever make. Like all major buys, you usually have an expert who is trained to handle of the details such as loans and contracts! Real estate agents are hired to help home buyers with very stage of the home buying process from house hunting to negotiating contracts. Let’s take a look at why you need a real estate agent during the home buying process!

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Local Experts

Looking for the perfect home in your preferred neighborhood is a lot of work! There are many things you need to know regarding pricing in various different neighborhoods, amenities and coming soon to market homes. There are so many variable involved to where this process would be overwhelming for any home buyer. Real estate agents will do the research and narrow down which homes will be the right one for you.

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Negotiations for Home Buyers

Home shopping is the very first step in the home buying process. There are multiple steps in between regarding closing on a home such as: making an offer, persuade the seller to accept it, and negotiating terms that work for both parties. This is way harder than it looks because the seller can reject you offer. Real estate agents are here to negotiate the perfect deal for both parties.

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Help with Paperwork

The paperwork associated with buying a home is very complicated to do. There are so many aspects and terms that need to be considered carefully. From the home mortage to submitting necessary paperwork, one mistake can create years of stress and complications. Real estate agents are here to explain verbiage and make sure the buyers understand what they’re signing up for!

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Fall 2020 Home Decor Ideas

Fall is just around the corner! Quarantine or not, it’s important to make sure your home is cozy and fit for every season. Decor doesn’t have to be something that sits on your counter for a few weeks and is never touched. You can incorporate it into your everyday life!

Here are some tips and tricks for decorating your home this autumn:

It’s that time of the year again!

Pumpkins

A staple of the fall season, pumpkins are something you can incorporate into every corner of your home. It can be a centerpiece at your table for dinner parties, on your front porch to welcome visitors.

Decorate your home with pumpkins

Knit blankets

Make sure you feel comfortable in your own home! When it’s movie night, you’ll be able to use your decor to keep you warm! You can even DIY knit your own chunky blanket! 

Blankets can make your home feel cozy

Fall themed dinnerware

Most modern families only have one set of flatware that they use from day to day. Invest in a set of neutral, earthy toned dinnerware to mix it up a bit and to wow your dinner guests! And the best part is – you can use these plates and bowls all year long!

You can strategically place foliage all over your home

Incorporate color

Tap into the colors that you see when you think of fall. Red wine. Orange pumpkins. Grey sweaters. Yellow husks of corn. Brown leaves and trees. Whether it’s through throw pillows or wreathes on the front door, incorporating these colors throughout will create a flow of fall throughout your four walls.

Add a splash of orange, yellow and reds inside and outside your home

Foliage

Leaves can either be annoying when they fly in through your front door, OR they can add a fall flair to your counter spaces. Hone your artistic side while putting leaves in unconventional spaces, like the dining table or coffee table.

Create the essence of fall when you incorporate the right color scheme

Companies Founded in Austin

Businesses founded in Austin have the reputation to blowup and become a huge success. Austin has been a starter for many important businesses, not only do big corporations decide to make Austin their home, but there are several companies that have been founded here in the past.

Here are a few companies you may have not known were founded right here in the capital of Texas!

Kendra Scott Flagship Store

Kendra Scott

As one of the most popular jewelry brands at the moment, did you know that Kendra Scott started in Austin? Kendra Scott was founded back in 2002 when she was going to boutiques to sell her items. Her jewelry items started to become very popular and eventually caught Nordstrom’s eyes. After hearing how much buzz this brand was creating, Nordstrom started selling Kendra Scott items.

From seeing all the success through Nordstrom, Kendra Scott decided to open her first store in South Congress. What made her brand standout compared to others was the use of natural stones and the “Color Bar, where customers can create their own unique piece and a stylist will design it in front of them.

The Color Bar is Available at Every Kendra Scott Store

Since starting the brand back in 2002, Kendra Scott has now opened 112 stores in the United States. In 2018, she opened a brand-new flagship location in South Congress which includes the very first café inside a Kendra Scott store!

Kendra Scott on South Congress

Whole Foods

As a health food store staple, Whole Foods was founded back in 1980 here in Austin! The founders are John Mackey, Renee Lawson Hardy, Mark Skiles and Craig Weller. What made the store standout from competitors was the fact that the very first that was 10,500 square feet with 19 employees. Back then that was a very large location for a natural food marketplace.

People loved that not only could you purchase groceries, but they would sell healthy meals ready on the go. After opening their first store in Austin, Whole Foods soon expanded to Dallas and Houston. Eventually opening multiple stores all throughout the United States.

Whole Foods Market & Headquarters in Austin, Texas

YETI

Would you like a water bottle that can actually keep your drink cold all day? Lucky for you, YETI started in Austin and currently have their flagship location on South Congress!

YETI Coolers was founded in back in 2006 by brothers Roy and Ryan Seider who were big fans of outdoor activities. The most common issue that came up was having a good quality cooler. Eventually they came up with the idea of creating a cooler that was perfect for the outdoors. Since creating the brand, they have created water bottles, mugs, dog bowls and much more!

YETI Flagship Store

HOA 101: All You Need To Know

Ever wondered what it means to have a homeowners association in your neighborhood? Here are a few easy facts to help you out!

What is an HOA?

HOA stands for Homeowners Association, and its organizational purpose is to make and enforce rules within the community of properties, whether it be houses or condominiums/apartments.

What does an HOA do?

Typically, an HOA enforces architectural guidelines, maintains common areas and amenities (such as a swimming pool, tennis court, playground, gyms, etc), and prohibits or authorizes particular activities, uses and improvements of certain residential developments. The HOA is run and funded by residents of the neighborhood, but its overall goal is to increase property values.

Does it cost money?

Depending on your community, HOA members are required to pay fees, whether it be monthly, quarterly or annually. Some HOA’s fees are $10/month, whereas some fees might be well over $1000/month – it all depends on your community’s location, size, and overall value. 

What does the HOA pay for?

The fees you pay every month are generally used to go towards maintenance of common areas/amenities, or even security to ensure that your neighborhood is safe during all hours of.

How does it affect my house when selling?

HOA’s can be quite beneficial, even though their rules may seem a bit restrictive. Your property can go up in value because of these rules that keep the neighborhood in tip-top shape. These rules ensure that no couches will be displayed in the front yard, no house will be painted some exotic color or that no rusty car will be parked on a lawn.

Not Every Neighborhood Has an HOA

HOAs are more commonly found in planned or gated communities, so not every house or neighborhood is bound to an HOA!

“I’m moving into a neighborhood with an HOA, should I be worried?”

If you are moving from a neighborhood without an HOA into a neighborhood WITH an HOA, make sure you know the covenants, conditions and restrictions (a.k.a “CC&R”s) that you would have to follow upon your move-in. 

Can an HOA legally enforce their rules?

Yes! By buying, owning and living in a house in an HOA community, you are legally bound to pay the HOA dues that are charged. Refusal to pay these dues can result in a fine from the HOA itself, or the HOA can place a lien (legal right against assets) on your property. Make sure you read the fine print of your next real estate contract to see if you have any concerns!

How To Make Your Home Pet Friendly (DIY Tips)

Having a pet is a lot like having a child. You feed it, make sure it goes out to the bathroom on time, exercise it, and let it take over your social media feed. Whether you already own a pet or you see one in your future, it’s important that your house is just as ready as you are!

Here are some DIY tips on how to make your home more pet friendly!

orange cat sleeping on white bed
Photo by Александар Цветановић on Pexels.com

Decor

Get creative and incorporate your pet’s needs into your interior design. For instance, DIY or find an end table that doubles as a dog crate, or make sure your cat’s adventurous side is satisfied with the bookshelves you want to put up in the living room.

DIY Dog Crate via PopSugar

Flooring

It is also important to pick out durable food materials such as ceramic tiles or laminate flooring. You can still get a timeless hardwood floor look without having to worry about toenails and claws ruining it after a week. 

Petco Sells Cali Vinyl Pet-Friendly Flooring via Pet Age

Furniture

In terms of furniture, Crypton is a stain and odor resistant fabric that is becoming more of a household staple for pet parents. It’s the perfect material to allow your fur babies up on the couch without worries of scratches on leather or stains on other fabrics. 

Crypton Fabric via http://www.crypton.com

Give them their own space

Not only will they appreciate their own area of the house, but it will be nice for you when you don’t have to run around the house trying to find their leash to go outside. Having all your fur babies treats, crates, bowls and toys will save you time and help from your pet’s items taking over the whole house(/help keep your home looking clean).

adorable animal bed bedroom
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Clean Often

This may sound like a deal breaker, but cleaning often can really save your home from the sometimes-destructive nature of pets. Vacuuming the surfaces in your home more than once a month will serve you well, since it means stains won’t have time to fully set in and can easily be removed.

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Things To Do on South Congress

South Congress is one of the most iconic streets in all of Austin! It has everything you’d ever need including local favorite restaurant, shops, hotels, and big brand name shops. With thousands of people everyday, here are the top things to do in South Congress!

Downtown Austin view on South Congress

Restaurants

Food is one of the most important things about Austin culture. You can’t have an important street like South Congress without some amazing restaurants. If you’re looking for a classic restaurant with anything and everything, we’d recommend South Congress Cafe and Cafe Nose. If you’re feeling a bit fancy and want amazing seafood, Perla’s will be your next favorite place. Need a quick bite with friends and a couple of beers? Hopdoddy’s is located at the heart of South Congress. And finally dessert, Amy’s Ice Cream is a local favorite.

Amazing sea food selection available at Perla’s

Coffee Shops

What’s Austin without its coffee shops?! There are many different options to choose from in South Congress. Jo’s Coffee Shop is a staple and you can take the classic “I love you so much” picture in front of the mural. Mañana is a little hiddem gem next to the South Congress Hotel. And if you feel like shopping for shoes but also enjoying a great cup of coffee, visit Tom’s!

Some of the best coffee available at Joe’s Coffee Shop

Kendra Scott

When you think of Texas, what’s the first jewelry brand that comes to mind? Kendra Scott! The brand started out in Austin back in 2002. Their Flagship location is in South Congress and it has everything you need, limited-edition beautiful jewelry you can only get at that location, a cute cafe that sells delicious frosé and a cute mural for amazing photos. What more could you ask for!?

Kendra Scott flagship store on South Congress

Shopping

As South Congress keeps growing, more and more cute shops are popping up throughout the whole strip. At the top, there are local shops with Austin-related knick knacks. Coming down closer to downtown, there is a new shopping area called “Music Lane,” where high-end stores like Reformation, Lululemon, Madewell for men and many more coming soon!

Yard Dog on South Congress

South Congress keeps growing and growing as the years go by as it’s become one of the most iconic Austin streets. With the growth Austin has seen, there are definitely big opportunities for this street to keep evolving!

Why Home Staging is More Valuable Than Upgrades and Renovations

Planning on selling your home? There are many things that you need to prepare when it comes to preparing your home on the market. Many home sellers revert to renovating their home because they want to ensure that their listing makes the most money it can possibly make. But did you know that you can skyrocket the value of your home without spending too much money on renovations?

Staging by Hevenle Staging & Design

Expand Your Homes

Is your home lacking space? Well did you know that instead of breaking down walls or removing appliances, you can create the feel of a large home when you use the proper colors, stylings and furniture? With the right vision, a home stager can truly bring your outdated home and bring it back to life!

Staging by Hevenle Staging & Design

Cheaper Than Renovations

Renovations can be very costly. Depending on the condition of your home, renovations costs can range from $1,000-$10,000 and more! Since you would probably prefer to save as much as you can for your next move, you can transform your home to look stylish as is. Whether you have interesting colored walls or carpet on the floors, home staging can be used to to make these traits one of the home’s selling points!

Adding Accent Pieces to Accentuate the Wall Color

Are you thinking of selling your home? Let us know whether you’re planning on renovating or staging it! There are definitely pros and cons to both.