Why Staging Matters When Selling Austin Condos

Staging can mean everything when you are selling your home. Don’t believe me? Listen to this scenario I recently had when I was showing some buyers condos near Lake Travis.

We enter the first condo of the day. It is located in a building they already love and these buyers know what they are looking for in a condo. There are only four floor plans we are seeing in the building – although we are seeing several units with the same floor plan. The first condo is vacant but supposedly staged with outdated living room furniture and no dining room table. In these small lake front condos, it can be hard to visualize where your dining table will go – and the lack of one in this unit certainly left my buyers puzzled. The master furniture was nice, but the second bedroom seemed too specific with two twin-sized beds. The walls were white throughout the condo and there weren’t many decorations or paintings. Overall, the condo seemed clean and but lacked warmth and the furniture style and layout were not ideal. Being the first condo of the day, my buyers liked this unit and the overall square footage…they aren’t wowed, but it is left on their “list.”

We move on to a few of the other units with different floor plans, but each seem to have a flaw and do not make the “list.” Next, we enter a unit with the same floor plan as the first condo my buyers liked. This unit is occupied and has been professionally decorated. Almost immediately they notice the dining table and they love the placement of it in the condo – it adds value, a whole other room. Right then, they knew they liked this condo better than the first because of the layout….the funny thing is that both units are identical in square footage and floor plan. Both units when bought will be cleared of its furniture and the buyers will bring in their own touches…but already one unit is ‘winning’ over the other because they are showing the buyer where they can place the table. One would think the two units should still be equal, but the psychological effect one dining table has made all the difference in the world to these buyers. As we move throughout the unit, we notice the different placement of the living room furniture and the warm colors throughout. They even forgive a few of the accessories because the overall feel of the unit just felt right to them. Even the bedroom furniture placement made them think more about what they’ll do with the rooms and which family member will spend more time in the secondary bedroom versus the balcony. Again, this is the identical unit to the first, but the staging evoked so much more in these buyers and they were sold.

To top this story off, there was quite a difference between the list prices in the identical condos as well – the second priced higher. That price difference seemed justified to the buyers (though, we did change that up in negotiations of course!) simply because the way that condo made them feel over the other.

So, if you did not think staging made a difference before – I hope you see it now. My clients went from liking a condo but wanting to see more to falling in love with an identical unit, which was priced higher, all because of the staging.

If you are thinking about selling your Austin condo, contact me today and let’s discuss how we can wow the buyers and bring more money to your pockets at closing.


Should Sellers Preview Similar Homes in Their Neighborhood For Sale?

When you are considering placing your home on the market, there is one vitally important step that is often overlooked, but will tremendously help you and your Realtor decide on proper pricing: a face-to-face meeting with the competition.

Now, of course you will want your Realtor to provide a Comparative Market Analysis for your home so that you can see at what price homes have been selling that are similar to yours, and to get a snapshot of the competing active listings. There’s no question that it’s a great tool, but, a CMA is just numbers on a piece of paper (and sometimes a picture or two).

What I like to do is take it a step further and actually take the seller out with me to tour the competing homes that are actively listed or have recently went pending.

Why is this important? Because it is so easy when looking at things on paper to think, “My home is better than that home,” or “I have 50 more square feet than that home, so mine must be better.” By not seeing these homes in person you may not be able to realize that the competing home may show better than yours or that, even at 50 square feet less, the floor plan flows better than your home. What if your home is 50 or 75 sqaure feet larger, but your floor plan has oversized hallways or a slightly wider 4th bedroom? What if your master bedroom has a sitting area or your kitchen has a butler’s pantry that is not currently in demand by buyers in your current market? How should that affect your pricing decision?

Sellers can be biased toward their own home, and they usually are – which is only natural! Even when touring the comparable homes, I will still hear comments like, “Our home is better that this home because ours has ___ and this home has ___ ,” which may be true in your opinion…but the key here is to listen to your Realtor and learn what they are hearing from their buyers. As buyer demands and tastes change through time, it is essential to hire an experienced Realtor who has their ears to the ground and knows exactly what buyers are looking for. This information is crucial to preparing your home for the market, and for effectively pricing it.

If you are considering selling your Austin home, contact me today and let’s talk about finding the right value for your home. Rest assured that you will get an opportunity to meet your competition, and you’ll be glad that you did when we’re under contract and they’re still racking up days on market!


Milago Condos Offer Guaranteed Views on Select Units

Milago Condos in downtown Austin have always been one of my favorite buildings to show. The residents are always friendly, and walking around the building you notice the condo is definitely dog-friendly and the concierge always greets you with a smile. My buyers notice this and have many times told me that the Milago gives them an overall “good feeling.”

For Guaranteed Lady Bird Lake Views, Choose Milago

One other thing that buyers have a good feeling about is that they know when they buy one of the units that face Lady Bird Lake, they will always have an unobstructed view. This appeals to them because there are other downtown Austin condos that have views that can potentially change as soon as a new building comes up.

Which Views Are The Best From Milago, City or Lake?

The Milago units offer varying views based on the units position in the building. Of course, located right on the Town Lake hike and bike trail, some of the units offer views of the lake – some are very expansive, beautiful views, depending on what level you are on. Other condos face toward the other downtown Austin buildings and others even face toward the I-35. While many may assume that the lake views are the best, it really all depends on who you ask…I’ve found that some of my clients prefer the highway views!

What view would you prefer – lake or downtown buildings? What price tag would you place on a view from the 3rd floor vs. the 13th floor? I’m interested to hear your opinions on this!

And, if you’d like to tour some of the available units for sale in Milago, or have a Milago condo to sell, contact me today.


Top 5 Local Places to Find Uniquely Austin Holiday Gifts

Austin is known for its culture and style, and the holidays are a great opportunity to give a local gift to your friends and family that reminds them of it.  So skip the Wal-Mart and avoid the dreaded mall madness, and check out some of these locally-owned businesses that are sure to have that perfect holiday gift.  With so many choices, it is tough to choose only five.  But, if I have to choose only 5, here are my picks:

Breed & Co

Breed & Co.

This is the go-to store for when you need ____, but you’re not quite sure where to get it.  When you walk in the main doors, if you go left you enter the hardware department.  If you go right, you enter their arts / crafts / gifts department.  They also have an outdoor area with lawn & garden items.  Surely there’s a great gift to be found here!  Breed & Co is located at 718 W. 29th Street near UT Campus.


SoLa is a locally-owned boutique selling women’s apparel and accessories.  They have a great selection that is updated often: from dresses and tops, to handbags and shoes and I love their jewelry selction.  They have two locations:  one on South Lamar and one in the Triangle in Central Austin.


Aviary started out as a home decor store, and has morphed into something totally awesome.  Now, they have a wine bar in the middle of the store, and on Wednesday nights, they are the place to be!  Nearly everything you see in Aviary is available for sale, and they have a great selection of boutique items.  Although their items most likely aren’t made in Austin, don’t let that sway you from making a stop in here.  It’s a locally-owned boutique, and worth a visit.  Aviary is located at 2110 South Lamar.

Austin Art Garage

Give the gift of local art!  Austin Art Garage features original art by local Austin artists.  Enough said. According to their website, they regularly have over 300 original pieces of art in their studio, and it’s open 6 days a week.  Austin Art Garage is located at 2200 S. Lamar, Suite J.

Parts and Labour


Parts and Labour is an awesome boutique on South Congress.  I think everything in this store represents Austin in a great way, and they have awsesome little stocking stuffers.  They have a great selection of men’s and women’s items, including clothing and accessories.  Parts and Labour is located at 1117 S. Congress Ave.


How Are Mueller Home Sales Affecting Surrounding East Austin Areas?

Is the new community of Mueller positively affecting home sales in the surrounding East Austin communities?

Lot sales have been slow in the MLS area 3 – in the last six months only one lot has sold and 20 lots remain on the market, with the average cumulative days on market at 353 days.

This is quite a change from a few years ago when lot sales were super hot in the East Austin areas. I remember the days when multiple offers would be on a property within hours of it hitting the MLS. Builders and investors were eager to get in on the east side with its new trendy reputation.

When I take a look at home sales and compare them to lot sales in the MLS area 3, it makes me wonder if times are about to change again. (To explain, MLS area 3 covers East Austin north of Martin Luther King Blvd, south of the 183 and in between the 35 and 183.) Homes sales in area 3 have been steady – 130 homes have sold in the last six months (according to MLS data) – that’s nearly one a day.

And, with the Mueller development located in MLS area 3, one can assume that these sales will help bring more interest to the area. Certainly, the commercial developments and the parks near & in Mueller have helped the surrounding neighborhoods and areas. New home sales in Mueller have ranged from the high $200’s to $499k in the last six months of MLS data.

Are smaller builders and investors going to start hoping they can build in nearby neighborhoods, like Cherrywood, and get similar prices on their new homes? There is a difference being in a diverse neighborhood with a mix of new and old homes (like Cherrywood) vs. a new subdivision like Mueller and prices will reflect that, but the prices may begin to affect one another because of proximity and buyer desire to live in this area.

If you would like more sales information on the East Austin area, or want to know more about investment property in East Austin, contact me today.

Do you have an opinion on whether Mueller has helped the surrounding East Austin areas?  We’d love to hear your thoughts!


Tips When Buying or Selling Austin Homes With Foundation Problems

There are many areas of Austin where homes with foundation problems are commonly found (East Austin, Pflugerville, etc.)  I’ve learned from inspectors that this is mostly due to the type of soil that we have, but it can also be attributed to uneven watering of your yard near your home (or the entire lack of watering altogether.)

Selling an Austin Home with Foundation Issues

Sellers who are aware of the competitive market they face usually opt to repair the foundation before putting their home on the market.  Although, there are many homes in need of foundation repair on the MLS.

If you are about to sell your home and you feel that it has foundation problems, here are a few cautionary words of advice that you should think about before listing it:

  • Have the foundation work completed prior to listing it, if you have the financial means to do so.

Buyers are going to heavily discount your home if they see visible cracks on the interior or exterior of your home.  We have seen many instances where the general public’s perceived cost-to-repair far exceeds the actual cost.  Sometimes a buyer will walk through a home and think that it will cost $20,000 to repair the home, when in reality, it may really only cost about $5,000 or sometimes less to bring everything back into order.  As a seller, it’s often better to get things back into top condition prior to listing it to better your chances at receiving fair market value for your home.

When a seller has had the foundation repaired, a warranty, in most cases, is attached to the property and can be transferred to the buyer at closing.  However, one thing buyers need to be made aware of is that many of these foundation companies impose a transfer fee in order for the warranty to be valid.

  • If you cannot afford to complete the foundation repairs prior to listing, do your research and obtain multiple bids for the job.

There are quite a few foundation repair companies in Austin, and nearly all of them will come out to your home and provide you with a free bid for the work.  Get as many bids as you can, so that you can present the best ones to the buyers.  It’s best to be up-front with the buyers about foundation issues to ease their fears. In doing so, you should better your chances at obtaining the most value for your home.

If you “think” that your home might have foundation problems, you can hire a professional that’s called a “structural engineer.”  A structural engineer will come out and measure your home’s slab deviation and provide you with a detailed report on the structural integrity of your home.  The typical fee for a structural engineer’s report is between $300 to $500+ depending on the scope of the project.

Buying an Austin Home With Foundation Repairs or Damage

If you are buying a home in Austin that has already had foundation work, request to see the warranty paperwork and find out if you will be required to pay a fee to transfer the warranty into your name.

If the seller’s position is that the home doesn’t need foundation work but you feel that it does, it would be in your best interest to obtain multiple bids for the foundation work while you are in your option period.  It might also be a good idea to negotiate with the seller to subsidize the cost of an engineering report if the initial bids for work come back saying that the home needs substantial foundation work.

There are many surprises along the way when you are buying a home.  Being represented by a Realtor who has experience helps prepare you and will make your home buying experience much smoother. If you are looking to buy a home in the Austin area and are looking for a Realtor, contact us today and let us help you into your next home.


Zilker Trail of Lights Cancelled, Tree Ceremony Still On

We will miss the Zilker Trail of Lights this year, as it’s been cancelled.  This tradition has always been one of our favorites, especially living in the Zilker Park neighborhood; we had always loved walking down to the trail and enjoying the sights of the holiday season! 

All is not lost though.  They are still having the Zilker Tree and the lighting ceremony takes place on December 5th at 6pm.

The events that take place in Zilker Park are definitely one of the biggest benefits we see living here.  We love walking down to check out ACL Fest, Blues on the Green and other events throughout the year.  Living in Zilker Park and so close to the action makes you feel as though you are really a part of the city, and of course it’s part of Austin’s popular 78704 zip code.

And, you don’t even have to walk down to the park to be entertained.  I find it fascinating to walk around the Zilker neighborhood and look at all of the interesting and beautiful homes.  Since the Trail of Lights is cancelled this year, I’ll be replacing it with my own walk around the neighborhood and check out the lights our neighbors have displayed!

If you’d like to learn more about making Zilker your home, or are a current resident that is looking to sell and needs a Team that is experienced in that area, contact us today!