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Austin Texas Real Estate Blog

Margaret Jolly Homes


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 13

Austin vs. America

by Margaret Jolly Homes

Hey Austinites! The attached article has some good information on the national real estate market vs. the Austin real estate market. Real estate varies WILDLY from city to city and even neighborhood by neighborhood. Don't listen to what they say on the national news about the real estate market as it means almost nothing - kind of like asking what the average temperature is in the U.S. Does it matter? The temperature will vary wildly, depending on whether you are in Michigan or in Texas! What really matters is what the temperature is where you are. Same with the real estate market. Want to know specifically what the market is doing in your area and how it will impact your plans? Contact me and I'll share the details that really matter!


A tale of two sellers

by Margaret Jolly Homes

Why do people call a Realtor?  To buy and sell houses, right?  Not really. They generally call a Realtor because they have experienced some sort of life change and they need help.  Home sales are often quite emotionally charged. Marriage. Divorce. Death. Loss of Job. Growing family. Promotion. Relocation. Each  of these are emotional situations that buyers and sellers find themselves in. How I market and price a home depends a LOT on what type of life change a client is going through. Sometimes the most important goal is to make the most money possible on the sale. But, sometimes the goal is simply “get me out of here fast!” Sometimes the most important thing is to dovetail the timing of the sale of one property with the purchase of another without an interim move to an apartment. 

Two case studies:

In the summer of 2013, I was called by a couple who had listed their gorgeous luxury home in Steiner with another agent for 4 months. The price was high, marketing was minimal, showings were almost non-existent, and no offers had been presented, despite the fact that it was a “hot seller’s market”. They told me “My agent priced the house to get as much money as possible. Now here we are, four months on the market, and still no offers. I never said getting the most money was the most important thing. Yes, money is nice, but I just really need to get to my new job and my new home in Michigan!” I offered them two pricing scenarios.  One at a higher price (which was still very reasonable and obtainable) but would likely take another couple of months to sell, and a second scenario at a lower price that I was fairly confident would get them an offer in less than a month. My clients chose the lower price, because the move date was much more important to them than the proceeds. I staged the empty rooms of the home to give them a purpose, created a strong initial marketing blitz, and put up signs to make sure showing agents didn’t miss the hidden features of the home. The house was under contract 3 days later, and their sale was complete and they were off to their new home 34 days after I took the listing. They were ecstatic!

Would this be right for every seller?  NO!  Here’s a very different scenario:

I had helped a single dad buy a home in the Four Points area just 2 years ago. It was a perfect home for him. But when he decided to remarry, the house wasn’t big enough to accommodate their new blended family. He had high aspirations for their new home, so he needed every penny possible out of his current house. To maximize the value of the home, he worked extremely hard to get the house “show ready”, including painting, landscaping, and replacing some badly stained carpet, and I came armed with pictures and plants and decorations to make it look its absolute best. He had flexibility in his timing, so he was able to price high and was willing to wait if necessary for the right buyer. The house was posted in MLS and in 3 days we had a full price cash offer. The hard work paid off! The kicker was that the buyers needed to be in the house in 2 weeks, which meant the seller had to really hustle to get the move complete. Not all sellers are willing to be inconvenienced to pack up and get out in such a short amount of time.  But this one was because the financial gain was more important to him than the inconvenience.

There are so many interesting stories I could tell. If your life has changed, I would love to meet you and hear your story!

Coming Soon?

by Margaret Jolly Homes

The strong sellers' market in the Austin area has many buyers frustrated.  They are ready to move.  NOW!  But there are so few houses on the market right now, that often when a home hits MLS, there is a rush of people looking, which can lead to multiple offers, and can lead to the buyer missing out on a house that they liked.  This scenario can be frustrating to buyers, so searching for homes that are "Coming Soon" and not yet in the MLS (also referred to as a "pocket listing") has become an important part of today's house hunting arsenal.  What is the best way to find those homes before they hit the market and everyone knows about them?

Contact me!  I have resources that help me find homes before they are listed that most buyers do not have access to.  A few examples:

  • I get e-flyers daily for "Coming Soon" listings.  
  • Pocket listings are also posted on the Keller Williams Intranet (for only Keller Williams agents to see).
  • I am a member of a closed group on Facebook for agents to privately share Coming Soon listings.  
  • I know of a number of people who have contacted me about selling their home, but who aren't quite ready to officially put it on the MLS.  
  • I also know many of the agents that work in the Austin area and can contact them directly to help dig up those prized "Pocket Listings".

It doesn't cost you anything to work with a real estate agent when you are buying a home - but not working with one could cost you the "perfect" home.  Call me today at (512) 496-2281 and I'll help you find the home you are dreaming of!


Four Points Real Estate Update

by Margaret Jolly Homes

The news is full of stories about the national and Austin real estate markets.  But, that doesn’t really tell you what you want to know about the Four Points area where you live. There are many factors that affect the health of a local real estate market:  price point, location relative to jobs and shopping and schools, the beauty and character of an area, and the quality of the schools, just to name a few.  Overall, the Four Points area continues to be attractive to home buyers and has proven to be a relatively low risk investment for area homeowners.

The Austin area real estate market continues to be strong as we close out 2013.   According to the Austin Multiple Listing Service (MLS), pretty much every market indicator in November points to a very strong market for single-family homes, and area economists expect this trend to continue into 2014. 

  Change 2012-2013
Average Days on Market -24%
#Sales in Nov. 2013 +14%
# Sales Year to Date (Nov 2013) +19%
Median Sold Price +10%
Average Sold Price +8%
Average Sold Price/Square Foot +9%


Quite impressive, Austin!  Now let’s look at the Four Points area specifically.  The Austin MLS area RN (River North), is the area that includes the Four Points area and the real estate market in this area generally looks healthy, though not quite as strong as the overall Austin market. 

While the numbers might initially seem a little alarming, don’t worry…keep reading!  Days on market dropped in the RN area to a respectable average of 64 days.  And while the number of RN sales in November 2013 dropped 16% from last year, the Year To Date totals through the end of November show an 8% increase over last year.  So, sales in RN have increased in 2013, the sales just happened a bit earlier in the year.  While the RN area didn’t have the sales increases that the overall Austin area had, the good news is that it is in large part because the RN area weathered the recession particularly well, and didn’t have the large volume and pricing drops that some other areas of Austin experienced.  Great news for homeowners in the area!

Nov 2013 Austin vs. RN Charg

The average November sold price for the RN area increased about 1% to $555,250, but the median sold price dropped 11% to $455,000. This discrepancy between the average and median sales prices indicate that some high end sales pull the average price up, but in general, more lower priced homes sold this year compared to last year.  Given that the median sold price/square foot in RN increased almost 4%, and the median square footage of the homes that sold decreased by almost 8%, it appears that the decrease in median sales price is because there were more sales of smaller homes in 2013 vs. 2012 rather than a true price decrease in the area.  Again, good news.

So, keep calm…and carry on!  The real estate market in Four Points is doing just fine!

Nov. 2013 Sales Data
  All Austin Four Points Area
  2012 2013 % Change
2012 2013 % Change
Ave Days on Market 67 51 -24 68 64 -6
# Sales November 1,662 1,899 +14 45 38 -16
# Sales YTD (Nov) 21,163 25,289 +19 536 581 +8
Median Sold $ $199,920 $219,530 +10 $510,000 $455,000 -11
Average Sold $ $270,502 $292,658 +8 $550,917 $555,250 +1
Ave Sold $/Sqft $121 $132 +9 $160 $166 +4

What is a Back-up Contract?

by Margaret Jolly Homes

With the increase in real estate activity this spring, and the lack of inventory of homes for sale, many home are selling quickly, and multiple offers are somewhat common.  If your offer is not the winning offer, you may be asked if you want to submit a back-up offer.  

1.  What is a back-up contract?

Basically, you negotiate an acceptable contract to the seller, but with a back-up addendum attached. The back-up addendum specifies that if the original contract terminates by a specified date, then your contract will automatically become the primary contract, and you will then automatically be under contract with no chance for other buyers to submit offers.  

2.  Why would I want to submit a back-up contract?  Can't I just ask the listing agent to let me know if their contract terminates and then just re-submit my offer?

When a contract terminates, the agent may change it back to "active" in MLS immediately, before he/she thinks to call people who had originally submitted offers.  This opens you back up to competing with other new buyers for the home and finding yourself back in a multiple offer situation.  Also, listing agents are human, and sometimes they forget that you told them that, or they can't find your contact information when the original contract terminates.  So, the house may go back on the market to the public, and you may not know about it, so you may miss it again.  In a hot market, the listing agent knows that they will likely find another buyer quickly, and they may not care if it is you or someone else.  Their client ends up happy either way.  But boy, does it make you mad when you find out you missed out again when the listing agent promised to call you if the contract falls apart!!!  So, if you really, really love a house that you don't get, it is the best way to ensure that you get a solid second chance if anything happens.

3.  Why would I not want to submit one?

When you submit a back-up contract, you still have to submit earnest money and option fee money to the listing agent.  So, your money is tied up on a house that you still may not end up getting.  You can keep looking at other homes, but if you find one you like, you will need to terminate your back-up contract (using your option period) in order to get your earnest money back to put down on another house.  A bit of a hassle...  If you don't really, really love the house, then it's probably best to just keep watching it, but also looking for other homes, and keep your earnest money freed up for when you find another house you like.

4.  What are the chances that a house under contract is actually going to terminate?

In a "hot" market like this, buyers have to make decisions about whether to make an offer on a home much  more quickly than they do in a slow market.  So, the likelihood is higher that contracts will terminate because buyers haven't had as much time to consider whether the house is really the right one for them.  They have to move quickly, so they put the house under contract, then later figure out that it isn't quite what they want after they have had a little time to look at it again and think about it.  Also, they often rush the lenders to give pre-qualification letters to submit with their offer (hurry, hurry!), and the lender hasn't quite had time to really look at their whole situation.  So, in this type of market, it is more likely that after they have had time to really review the buyer's financial situation, it isn't quite as rosy as they first the buyer ends up having to terminate the contract because of financing issues. 

I have over 11 years of experience as a Realtor in the Austin real estate market, and I have been through several cycles of slow "buyers' markets", and hot "sellers' markets".  Both markets present challenges, and both present opportunities.  Let me help you navigate the current market to minimize the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities that the current market presents to help make your next move your best one ever!

Wow! Austin real estate market is hot! Who turned on the switch?!

by Margaret Jolly Homes

Wow!  What a start to 2013!  The real estate market in Austin, Texas has definitely changed from a buyer's market to a seller's market, ,and it seemed to happen overnight!  Normally, real estate sales are pretty slow in January and February, and just start picking up steam in March.  This year, my phone started ringing in early January, and normally quiet February has been crazy busy this year.  In the past week and a half, I have been involved in 4 multiple offer situations - 3 with buyers and 1 with sellers.  What a change from the past few years...and I don't see it slowing down anytime soon.  

There are now more people looking for homes than there are homes available. This is great news for sellers.  Of course, you still have to be priced right and have your home properly clean, decluttered, and staged for showing.  But with the shortage of homes for sale in Austin, even sellers with hard to sell homes should be able to find a willing buyer in this market.   For example, I just sold a home that backs up to Mopac in just 2 days, for more than list price.    

The shortage of homes on the market makes it fun to be a seller right now!  However, it has also created a new concern for those who are moving within Austin..."If I put my house on the market, and it sells right away, where do I go?  Homes are selling fast, so I'm afraid that I won't find a house to move to.  How do I time the sale of my home with the purchase of a new one?"  In a market like this, your Realtor's skills come into play, and you may find that negotiating dates and possibly lease-backs can become even more important than pricing.  

If you are buying, you will need to view homes as soon as they come on the market, and be prepared to make offers quickly and compete in multiple offer situations.  However, don't be afraid!  Multiple offers don't have to mean "bidding wars", or paying too much for a home.  Prices haven't gone up much.  You have to be in a seller's market for a while before prices start to really go up.  Austin historically doesn't have big upswings in pricing (and therefore, it doesn't have the huge downswings that other areas experience either!)  So, don't be afraid to look for a house to purchase in this economy.  You have to be willing to make a move pretty quickly on homes that are newly listed, but pricing is still reasonable, and with interest rates at all time lows, it really is a wonderful time to buy!

Thinking about moving?  Give me a call and let me know how I can help you!


Grandview Hills Market Getting Stronger!

by Margaret Jolly Homes


The Grandview HIlls real estate market is improving.  As of September 14th, there were 6 homes that have closed in 2012, plus 6 more that are under contract, for a total of 12 Year To Date in 2012.  That is already 2 more than last year...with 3 months of selling left in the year.  This is still below the 2010 sales of 17 homes, but at least moving the right direction.

However, in general, the sales have come at lower price points than in 2011, with more sales under $300k and fewer sales in the $300-400k range. So, pricing has fallen to a level that has become attractive to buyers, which has spurred an increase in sales and a decrease in the days on market.  If buying stays strong, then we will start to see prices going back up. 

Homes are selling faster than they have in the past few years.  In 2010, the median days on market was 144 days.  In 2011, it dropped to 53.  Year to date in 2012, it has dropped to 22 days!  (This includes homes that have closed in 2012 and homes that are under contract.)  This is wonderful news for our neighborhood!  It indicates that we are strongly in a recovery from the buyers’ market.  The market will need to stay strong a little longer before we start seeing price improvements, however.

There were also a couple of “high-end” sales in the Estates section this year—another indication of strengthening of the Grandview Hills real estate market.   I anticipate that real estate activity in Grandview Hills will continue to improve as people in other communities get fed up with the traffic and as the new retail center brings new amenities to our area (like a movie theater and restaurants within walking/biking distance!).  I believe that this will make this neighborhood more and more attractive to buyers.  




Austin Area Home Sales Volume Increases Again!

by Margaret Jolly Homes

Austin area home buyers finally figured out that the Austin area has not been hit as hard as the United States as a whole.  Job growth is good, people are moving to Austin from other parts of the country, and home prices have held up well compared to most of the country.  So, people have started buying again, which has lead to increased demand for homes, and a shrinking inventory of available homes, which in turn leads to higher prices and lower Days on Market.  This is great news!

According to the Austin Board of Realtors, both the number of home sales, and the price of Austin area homes is still on the rise!  According to the report, in August 2012, 2,397 homes were sold in the Austin area - this is 21 % more than in 2011!  The median price for Austin area homes also increased to $121,000, a 6% increase over August 2011.  Additionally, the average days on market for the Austin area dropped from 79 days in August 2011 to 61 days in August 2012.  

With this kind of news, AND the low, low mortgage rates, now is really the time to make a move!

Just like we can't understand the Austin real estate market based on what we hear about the national real estate market, we can't know what is happening in your specific neighborhood by just looking at the Austin-wide real estate numbers.  If you want to know what this means for YOU SPECIFICALLY, give me a call and I'd be happy to prepare a no-obligation market analysis for your home.

Call me at 512-496-2281 or email me at

Warm regards,
Margaret T. Jolly

Austin Real Estate Market Is Strong in July!

by Margaret Jolly Homes

According to the July 2012 data from the Austin Board of Realtors, the Austin real estate market is noticeably stronger than it was in 2011!  

The number of sales per month has been higher every month in 2012 than it was in 2011, with the year to date number of sales 18% higher than in 2011.  Pricing has increased also, with the July 2012 average price up 8.4% to $277,146 and median price up 11.4% to $211,750 compared with July 2011.  The average Days On Market  for July was 27 days, down 42.6% from July 2011.  The combination of increased number of sales, increasing prices, and lower Days On Market indicate that the Austin real estate market is healthy and thriving!

Of course, this data includes the entire Austin area, including suburban areas.  Some areas of town are definitely stronger than others.  If you are interested in how things look in your particular area or neighborhood, please email me at and I'll be glad to pull information that is specific to your home and your neighborhood.



Margaret Reed is now Jolly!

by Margaret Jolly


Hi there!  Hope you are doing well!  Just a quick email to let you know of some exciting changes in my life and business. 

I got married on May 24 to my wonderful husband Larry Jolly, so I now have a new name:  Margaret Jolly!  Yes, I love the name.  It makes me Jolly, and that makes me happy!

My new name has in turn has led to a new business name and website address for me.  So, here’s my new “jollier” contact information:

Margaret Jolly
Margaret Jolly Homes
Keller Williams Realty

Yes, I’m still in real estate (over 10 years now!), and would love to help anyone you know who is looking to buy or sell (so they can be jolly too!).  The Austin market has gotten stronger in the past few months, and interest rates are still super low, so it’s a great time to make a move!  We have also just completed a major remodeling project on our new home, so I have some great contractor names to pass along if you are wanting to do some remodeling projects at your home.  Let me know how I can help you!

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 13

Contact Information

Photo of Margaret Jolly Real Estate
Margaret Jolly
Private Label Realty
8300 N Mopac Ste 110
Austin TX 78759