First time homebuyer in Austin, TX? Here’s what you need to know.

First time homebuyer in Austin, TX? Here's what you need to know.

In case you haven’t heard, Open Listings is now live in Austin, TX — and, we’re not alone.

According to the 2018 Emerging Trends in Real Estate Report, Austin is the second-fastest growing city in the nation, just behind Seattle (which we’re also in). The city’s rise in popularity is anything but surprising. In a place known for everything from a vibrant music scene to unforgettable barbecue and affordable housing rates, everyone wants a piece of the action.

If planting some Austin homeowner roots are in your sights, keep reading. We’re here to outline everything you need to know to make it in this hot market, from how to find the right neighborhood to tips on writing an offer that will set you apart from the crowd.

Consider this your go-to home ownership guide for the city that wants to stay weird. ✌️

Prep your financials first

Knowing how much money you have to spend is one of the most crucial steps in being able to buy a home, but it may be even more vital to find homes for sale in Austin, where home prices are on the rise.

First time homebuyer in Austin, TX? Here's what you need to know.

The median home price within the city limits now tops out at $337,000. This may still seem like a steal compared to most major cities, but it’s actually a 7.8% rise from last year.

However, it’s worth noting that, once you head outside the city limits, there’s still ability to find very affordable housing.

Whatever your budget may end up being, the first step to setting it is applying for a pre-approval.

A pre-approval is an official document from a bank or mortgage company that states how much they’re willing to lend you, based on your financial history. You can get one of your own by applying through a lender you trust. If you need some tips on finding the best mortgage lender for you, we’ve got your back as well.

Once you have a pre-approval in hand, the next step is figuring out how much you’re willing to spend.

While a pre-approval will tell you the maximum amount you’re allowed to borrow, realistically, you may not want to spend that much.

Use a mortgage calculator to get a sense of what your monthly payment will look like at variety of sale prices to find an amount where you feel comfortable moving forward.

Compare neighborhoods

One of the best things about Austin is the way it embraces all walks of life.

First time homebuyer in Austin, TX? Here's what you need to know.

Within the city’s 271.8 square mile perimeter, there are a variety of neighborhoods to explore that embrace just about any lifestyle.

East Austin is an up-and-coming area with hipster vibes similar to Brooklyn or Silver Lake in LA. Meanwhile, the Wells Branch neighborhood in North Austin is popular among families who want more space while still staying close to the city’s conveniences.

In order to zero in on the neighborhood that will ultimately be the best fit for you, you’re going to need to do some research.

If you’re totally unfamiliar with the area, we suggest starting your search with a site like Areavibes, which ranks neighborhoods on a variety of categories, including crime rates, the quality of the school district, and the cost of living.

Be sure to factor in things like commute time — a must since Austin’s average commute of 26.2 minutes is higher than most U.S. cities — and available amenities like nearby restaurants, grocery stores, schools, and/or parks.

Figure out your must-haves & nice-to-haves

As Austin’s popularity continues to grow, so does the housing competition.

Available housing inventory has been on the decline for the last few years. So, buyers who want in on the city’s boom need to be especially proactive in their search.

Once you’re ready to start actively looking for a home, the Open Listings app has everything you need to stay informed.

First time homebuyer in Austin, TX? Here's what you need to know.

After you select your specific homeneeds — everything from sale price, to location preferences, and the ideal number of bedrooms and bathrooms — you’ll be notified as soon as a matching home hits the market. And, if you buy with Open Listings, you’ll save thousands with our 50% commission refund.

Austin has some particularly unique homes to offer, so we’d recommend keeping an open mind.

Keep your search criteria broad in the beginning to help give yourself a better sense of the type of properties that are available to you. After you’ve gone to a few open houses in the Austin area, we don’t doubt that you’ll find something you love, even if it’s not quite what you originally expected.

First time homebuyer in Austin, TX? Here's what you need to know.

Write a strong offer

All this attention on Austin means that the city is definitely in the midst of a seller’s market.

Right now, inventory is going quickly, and often, sellers are finding themselves with multiple offers to choose from. To stay competitive, buyers need to make sure that they go in with a strong offer that will set themselves apart from the crowd.

Successful offers involve a give-and-take where both the buyer and the seller feel like their needs are being met.

Since each offer is individual, what makes one stronger than the other will vary, but here are a few guiding principles:

  • A higher offer price
  • Fewer contingencies
  • A closing date that matches the seller’s desired timeframe
  • A compelling offer letter

Looking to buy your first home in Austin, Texas? Use Open Listings to house hunt 24/7, book tours on demand, create offers any time, and save thousands with our 50% commission refund.