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Expert Tips for Navigating the Real Estate Market

My mission at Watters International Realty is to be your best resource for real estate advice. Whether you are a buyer, seller, or investor, I can answer any questions you might have about
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Start Planning Your Spring Sale This Winter

Selling a home in the winter comes with many advantages. If you want to sell in the spring, though, you need to at least start planning with your Realtor this winter.

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If you're thinking about selling your home in the spring, there are some distinct advantages to meeting with a Realtor in the winter.

First, though, let's talk about the advantages of actually listing in the winter.

There's a lot less inventory on the market in the winter and fewer new construction homes. This is a good thing for resale homeowners looking to sell; you won't have to compete against as much new construction. Winter buyers are typically in must-buy situations, too, so they are more motivated to get a deal done.

Additionally, the other people in your neighborhood thinking about selling will also want to wait for spring, opening up the market for you. We also see that many employers make a lot of relocation hires in the first quarter of each year.
If you plan on selling this spring, start by meeting with an agent this winter.
So, if you plan on selling in the spring, you should start by meeting with an agent this winter. You can start by talking about how to position the home for the market. We can also put your home in our 'Coming Soon' program. We'll put a 'Coming Soon' sign in your yard and put your house on a special section on our website. Since the market is so hot, we have tons of buyers asking us about properties that are coming soon.

Any buyer will be seven times more motivated to buy by the fear of loss, according to human psychology. When buyers drive through the neighborhood, they see these 'Coming Soon' signs and get worried that another buyer will jump in and submit an offer before they get the chance. By leveraging our 'Coming Soon' program, sometimes we can market your home even above market value during the process.


If you're thinking about selling this winter or this upcoming spring, give us a call or send us an email. We'd love to help you out!

How Can You Prevent Frozen Pipes This Winter?

We'll see some temperatures cold enough for a freeze here in Central Texas soon. I've brought in my trusted home inspector for some advice on how to prevent freezing and burst pipes.

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Today I'm joined by Jeff Thorp, a licensed inspector here in Austin that we use a lot. Today, we're discussing what to do if your pipes burst due to the coming freeze here in Central Texas and how to prevent pipes from freezing in the first place. As Jeff says, your first step is to turn off the water. In most Austin homes, you'll find the water shutoff valve adjacent to the water meter, which should be located near the street or near the sidewalk. There, you'll find a small hand valve that either looks like a circular dial handle or a flat blade lever valve handle. Don't forget—righty tighty, lefty loosey.
So how can you prevent this from happening in the first place? Freeze protection is a must, Jeff says. We don't get cold temperatures often, but with those cold winds, hose bibs can freeze over, Jeff says. Once the water in there freezes, the expansion of the ice causes the leakage. To combat this, you can insulate hose bibs.

If you go out of town, you may be tempted to turn your heat off, but you should leave it on. The house doesn't need to be toasty, but you do need to keep some heat inside. Jeff says 55 degrees is enough heat.
"IF YOU LEAVE FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME, DON'T LET YOUR HOUSE GET COLDER THAN 55 DEGREES."
In many modern homes, water lines run through the attic. Sometimes they are even insulated by the ceiling insulation. That insulation could change, though, if a security system is installed or cable wiring is run through the attic. If the insulation has been disturbed enough to where you can see blue, red, or clear piping, it needs to be insulated.

Finally, letting a faucet drip is Jeff's last tip. This will keep a small amount of water moving and prevent freezing. Jess says it's best to have a kitchen or bathroom sink that's near an exterior wall dripping; you don't need all your faucets to drip.

A big thanks to Jeff for joining us today. If you're interested in any kind of home inspection or you just have questions for Jeff, you can contact him at 512-585-8726 or email him at propertydoctorjeff@gmail.com.

If you're thinking of buying or selling a home, give us a call or send us an email soon. We'd love to help!

How Long Should Your Home Stay Listed?

How long your home should sit on the market depends on the absorption rate in your neighborhood and your specific price range and whether or not you have your three Ps in alignment: price, promotion, and product. 

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Selling your Austin area home? Get a free market analysis report.

What’s a good number of days on market when your home is listed for sale?

That’s a tricky question. What’s important for you to understand is the absorption rate in your neighborhood and your specific price range. Location and price range are both important because in some price points—anything in excess of $2 million, for example— you can see homes sitting on the market for up to a year. 

If you have a home in the $200,000 to $300,000 price range, buyers are going to expect to see that home move rather quickly. One of the very first questions a buyer asks Mr. or Mrs. Realtor when they walk in the door is, “How many days has this home been on the market?” If your home is in this price range and your days on market exceeds two to three months, buyers are going to start wondering why the home hasn’t sold. They’ll then start walking through your home and picking it apart to see what’s wrong with it. This is what you don’t want to happen.

That’s why it’s critical that you get the three Ps in alignment: price, promotion, and product. If they aren’t in alignment, your home will sit on the market for a long time. 
A healthy days on market is contingent on the absorption rate.
A healthy level of average days on market is contingent on the absorption rate. When interviewing a real estate agent, it’s important that you ask them what the absorption rate for your neighborhood is. Once you exceed that number, I can guarantee you that any potential buyer will start wondering what’s wrong with your home. 

If you have any further questions about days on market or anything else real estate-related, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me via phone or email. I look forward to hearing from you!

How Does Our Guaranteed Sale Program Work?



Our Guaranteed Sale program isn’t too good to be true; it’s just our way of showing you how confident we are in our home selling abilities.


Looking to buy in the Austin area? Get a full home search. 
 Selling your Austin area home? Get a free market analysis report.

You’ve probably heard about our Guaranteed Sale program, but you may also be a bit skeptical about it. You may think it’s a gimmick or that it’s too good to be true.

In reality, it’s actually very simple. We will come to a predetermined price and deadline for your home together. If the deadline passes, we will simply buy your home. We are not going to buy it at a wholesale price either. In fact, if we make a profit from buying your home and reselling it, we will give that profit back to you.

One of our greatest tools is marketing. We have two local banks who have underwritten our Guaranteed Sale program because they are so confident in our ability to sell your home.

We have to earn your business each day.

You don’t have to worry about getting stuck in a long-term contract either. We have a one-day listing agreement, which means we have to earn your business every day. You can fire us at any point if you are unhappy. It’s a great way for you to hold us accountable. If we don’t come through for you, you can just get rid of us.

If you have any questions for us or would like to know what your home is worth in this market, give us a call or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you!

This Is What Really Matters Your Greater Austin House Hunt



We see a wide range of buyers, from those who want homes of a very specific size, style and architectural design, to buyers who simply want four walls, a roof, and electricity for their next home. Most clients are somewhere in the middle - they’re looking for a home that looks good and has most of the features they want.

You've probably looked at houses and checked off a few boxes making sure they have the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you want, but have you ever looked at a home and really thought, "Is this house right for me?"

Not many do. That's why I wanted to share a Consumer Reports video with you that I recently found. It's a nice checklist to go through in order to make sure the home you're considering actually fits you and your lifestyle. Here are my favorite items: 

  1. ​Communicate with people at the local coffee shop or any place where locals hang out. Simply ask their thoughts on the area. 
  2. You can tell a lot about the sense of community in a neighborhood based on the sidewalks and porches. Seriously! 
  3. Proximity to places and amenities you frequent shouldn't be overlooked. Do you want to be close to restaurants and shops, the airport, or parks and trails? 
  4. Mortgage cost shouldn't be the only factor when considering affordability. Look at transportation and utility costs too, for example. 
Remember, the average Greater Austin homeowner will stay in their home for about nine years. Don't ignore the important checklist items when considering the place you’ll call home for nearly a decade.

Now, this example is pretty broad. Each family has its own unique situation and its own unique checklist. I'd love to sit down with you and use my experience to help you come up with that all-important checklist of your own to help find the right home for you. Give me a call or send me an email and let’s talk soon.

HVAC Maintenance & Repair Tips for Homeowners


With summer nearly over, I’m sure you (like me) have been reminded just how much we use our air conditioning. Soon, in the winter, you’ll also be reminded of how often you use the furnace, too.

It’s one of the major systems in your home, and a surprise issue with one of these systems can be a nightmare if handled improperly. That’s why I wanted to share a video from Angie’s List that I recently saw about proper maintenance of your heating and cooling systems.

If either unit is having issues, did you know you can actually hire technicians who are specially trained to work on certain brands? For example, if you have a Trane system, you can find a tech who is trained specifically to work on Trane products.

Secondly, always remember to get second opinion when someone recommends that you replace a system, because oftentimes, a repair will do. You want to be certain when it comes to a part of your home that should last 20 years, especially considering the cost of a replacement. 

Unfortunately, as the video points out, there are a lot of people out there in who deal in these systems who prey on customers who don’t know any better. If you’re hiring a company, you should investigate them by checking out their web reviews or social media pages. 

Also, be proactive with service with these systems. If you wait until the systems is broken down and needs repair to get it checked out, you’re now at their mercy. 

As always, if you have any real estate questions for the Greater Austin area, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I’d be happy to answer them for you!

The Hottest Austin Market in Decades



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 Selling your Austin area home? Get a free market analysis report.


The real estate market in Austin is among the hottest in the entire country right now. We’re seeing activity in the market building, and we see this every year after spring break. To add to this, job growth is high, unemployment is low, and home prices have never been this high.


The market is phenomenal right now, but what might happen down the road to slow this growth? We want to pay attention to interest rates. They’re still historically low, but they’re bound to rise. This will negatively affect our buyers, and demand will fall, which means that home prices will also fall. Although everything is terrific right now, we want you to know that this kind of market doesn’t stick around for long.


In fact, affordability in some parts of the city has already become an issue. The average family in Austin makes just over $60,000 per year, and the average home in Austin costs $270,000. This has pushed a lot of people into the suburbs, and this could put downward pressure on home prices.


The bottom line is that right now is a great time to sell. I think we’re at the peak of the market, and you should not hesitate to put your home on the market. We can consult with you for free to figure out if this is really something that you should consider seriously.

We look forward to hearing back from you. Don’t miss out on this hot market!

Important Service Announcement from Watters International



Looking to buy in the Austin area? Get a full home search. 
 Selling your Austin area home? Get a free market analysis report.



We’re proud to announce that we’re moving our offices into a much larger and nicer space. We used to be near MoPac 2222, but we are two exits further west now.


This new office is going to allow our team to serve you at an even higher level, and in even more locations in Texas.


This new space is actually three times larger because we are expanding into San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas in the next 12 months. We want to help as many families as possible, so please let people in these cities know that we’re headed their way.


The exact location of the new office is 6850 Austin Center Boulevard in Building #2 (Suite 320).


We look forward to working with you all across Texas!

Does the Austin Market Favor Buyers or Sellers?



Looking to buy in the Austin area? Get a full home search. 
 Selling your Austin area home? Get a free market analysis report.

A lot of our clients have been wanting to know whether the Austin market is favoring home buyers or home sellers. The answer to this question is not a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. It all depends on where you’re looking and in what price range.

Real estate is hyper-local and changes very quickly from one area to the next. I will tell you that if you own a home worth less than $250k and it’s in a 45-mile radius of Austin, it’s going to fly off the shelf. The closer you get to Austin, the hotter the seller’s market becomes.
For those that are in the $250k to $500k range just outside of Austin, we’re seeing more inventory but that market is still favoring sellers. Homes worth more than $500k are seeing more inventory, so those markets are favoring buyers right now.


Overall, I don’t think we’ve ever seen a better time to sell a home in Austin. This city is red-hot right now when it comes to economics. Job growth is going through the roof and that’s a great indicator that our market will continue to be red-hot.

We expect great things in the Austin market this year, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have been thinking of selling your home. We look forward to hearing from you!

Eight Things Your Realtor Isn’t Telling You About


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Realtors work very hard to sell homes. We like to talk about all of the different things that we do to get your home sold, but we will do even more for you behind closed doors. Here are some extra steps that we take to get your home in Central Texas sold quickly!

  1. We shop for properties online, and we explore investment properties, FSBO properties, and even homes that are not currently available on the MLS.
  2. We prospect for you. We go inside homes and look at them so you don’t waste time looking at homes that you won’t like.
  3. We attend ‘pitch sessions’, and this is how we find out about other listings that Realtors have. This is where we find most of our off-market properties.
  4. We spend our own money on your marketing. This is how we put our skin in the game, and this is just another reason why we care so much about selling your home for top dollar. Anywhere from 25% to 35% of our commission is spent on marketing.
  5. We write offers and counteroffers to help you get the best possible deal. This sounds pretty simple, but there is a lot of thought put into these offers. These are all customized for your particular home sale.
  6. We stick around for inspections to take notes on what needs to be done in order to buy or sell a given property. We’ve seen hundreds of inspections, and we know which items you need to pay attention to.
  7. We smooth out bumps in the road. This is just part of being a good Realtor. We want your experience to be painless.
  8. We keep calm under pressure. There is a lot of emotion involved in a transaction, but we keep our cool. This is part of the reason you hired us, and you can count on us to be more rational when you may be a little more emotional.


If there’s anything that we can do to help you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Whether you’re buying or selling, 2016 is going to be a great year to get involved with real estate!

How to Whip Your Austin Home Into Shape for Spring 2016


Looking to buy in the Austin area? Get a full home search, 
 Selling your Austin area home? Get a free home value report.

This year is going to be a fantastic time to sell a home in Austin. Spring will be here much quicker than you realize, so now is the time to prepare your home for a competitive spring market. Here are a few things to think about.

  1. Consider which expensive items depreciate over time. We’re talking about water heaters, furnaces, HVAC, and more. Check the life cycles of these items because it could be very problematic later on in the transaction.
  2. Walk around the home and find common problems. Around your window and door seals, look for wood rot. Sometimes siding ages over time (it only lasts about 15 years). Also check your ceilings for yellow water spots. They’re very unattractive to buyers and they’re relatively easy to fix.


  1. Get your home pre-inspected before you sell it. This allows you to proactively go through and eliminate problems before they occur. The inspector will undoubtedly find something wrong with your property, and you want to find out before your buyer finds out. Inspections are the #1 deal killers in a real estate transaction. Have the confidence that your home is in good condition. This gives you an upper hand in negotiations down the road.

If you’re unsure about what you need to do to your home before you sell it, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I could walk through your home with you and determine some things that might be worth fixing.

Contact us soon - the spring market is approaching much more quickly that you think!