Few American cities are growing faster than Austin, Texas. It’s a hotbed of culture, business, art, music, and good people. But any time there’s a growing city, you can also be confident that there’s a competitive real estate market. And for a first time home buyer, it can feel intimidating.
But now’s a great time to dive in!
Austin has grown by nearly 35 percent over the past decade and now has a population of 2 million. And while you should never make a home purchase decision based solely on what everyone else is doing, healthy growth like this is typically a sign that something positive is happening. Here are some of the reasons why buying a house in Austin is a good decision:
- Great weather. The summers can get hot – like really hot – but you hardly ever have to deal with cold weather throughout the year. If you’re looking for warm temperatures in all four seasons, Austin is the place to be.
- Unique culture. Austin is oozing with culture. There’s an awesome music scene and food scene, as well as an interesting underground art movement that’s perfect for anyone who is interested in discovering new trends.
- Thriving business scene. Outside of Silicon Valley, there are very few cities in America that can boast about a startup scene as vibrant as Austin. Thousands of businesses have either launched in Austin or moved to the city in recent years. This makes it the ideal location for talented entrepreneurs and workers who are seeking employment in promising businesses.
- Outdoor paradise. Not into the music or arts scene? Want some fresh air? Austin is an outdoor lover’s paradise. With close proximity to gorgeous hiking, waterways, and parks, there’s something here for everyone.
Whether you currently live in Austin and are looking to transition from renting to buying, you’re relocating from another country or state, or you’re moving from another part of Texas, there’s a case to be made that Austin is one of the best options. Will you make the move?
7 First Time Buyer Tips and Tricks
There’s plenty to love about Austin, but as competitive as the real estate market is here, you have to be an informed buyer. As someone who is looking to purchase your first home, here are some tips we recommend keeping in the back of your mind:
- Figure Out What You Want
It’s one thing to say you want to buy a house. But what kind of house do you want to buy? Are you looking for a single family home on a large lot? Do you want a house in a nice suburban neighborhood where your kids can play in the cul de sac? Are you looking for a highrise condo in the heart of downtown Austin?
Austin is a diverse place with a ton of unique pockets and neighborhoods. If you cast too wide of a net, you’ll be overwhelmed by the process. It’s smart to start with a clear understanding of what you’re looking for so that you can zoom in on specific locations and categories of properties.
- Think About Commute Time
It’s not uncommon for a commute to be 20 or 30 minutes long if you live just outside of Austin. When looking for a house, take commute time into account. The last thing you want is to spend hours of your week sitting in your car in a battle against rush hour traffic.
- Shop Lenders
In terms of interest rates, there’s never been a better time to buy a house. You can get a mortgage for basically nothing. At the time of writing this, someone with excellent credit can get a rate below 3 percent. Historically, that number is unheard of!
But even with low rates, it’s still a good idea to shop lenders. Lenders are always looking for a way to be more competitive and may offer other benefits outside of low rates (such as lower closing costs).
- Clarify Your Budget
Figure out how much money you can reasonably spend on a mortgage payment each month. You’ll need to take everything into account, including the premium, interest, taxes, insurance, etc.
It’s ultimately up to you to determine what “affordable” means, but you probably want to stay below 25-30 percent of your take-home pay. Anything above that might be doable, but it can put you in a precarious situation.
- Differentiate Between Wants and Needs
Every home buyer has things they want and need in a home. The problem is that few buyers take the time to differentiate between the two, which can lead to poor decision making and dissatisfaction with a property after moving in.
Make a list of your wants and needs on a sheet of paper. When searching for a house, begin with the needs. If multiple houses check off all of your needs, you can then move on to the wants and go with the property that satisfies these negotiable factors.
- Keep Your Emotions in Check
There’s nothing wrong with emotions, but they have a way of clouding sound decision making. As you search for a property, be consciously aware of your emotions and always check them against the objective facts. Doing so will reduce your chances of overpaying and/or buying a house that’s a bad fit for you and your family.
- Find the Right Agent
The right Austin real estate agent can make a huge difference. Look for an agent who has years of local experience and who understands the market. They should also have good negotiation skills and a personality that meshes well with yours. You’ll be spending a lot of time with this person, so it’s important that you work well together.
Buy Your First Home With Green Residential
At Green Residential, we’ve been in the real estate industry for more than 40 years. Over that period of time, we’ve developed a keen understanding of the marketplace and the inventory. We’re constantly staying abreast of new inflection points and trends in the Austin market and can help you navigate the ups and downs. For more information on how we can help you find the perfect house for your needs, please contact us today.