Level Up Your House Hunting Game

Erin OsterhausOctober 11, 2022


Cartoon scouting for home

If you’ve been house hunting in Austin lately, chances are it hasn’t been an easy process. There are multiple reasons for Austin’s super tight real estate market, including a population that continues to increase daily, a fundamental lack of inventory, and an increase in cash offers. But don’t lose faith! Whether you already call Austin home or are looking to make the pilgrimage to the Lone Star State in the near future, here are a few tips to help you improve your chances of closing on your dream home.

1. Get pre-approved first.

Before you find a real estate agent and start scouring real-estate apps and the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to find the perfect house in ATX, it’s a good idea to get approved for a mortgage loan. Because buyer demand is higher than the supply of affordable homes on the market, houses don’t sit on the market for long. So, if you want to stand out from a crowd of other potential buyers, it’s extremely helpful to have a fully underwritten loan prequalification or preapproval.

Prequalification is typically a quick process, taking less than a week in most cases. It can take longer depending on your employment and credit history.

Taking this first step helps speed up the rest of the homebuying process. Real estate agents will be more likely to work with you, seller will most likely take your offer more seriously, and the best part—you’ll get a lot of your paperwork done before you get a mortgage.

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2. Close the distance with knowledge.

Looking for a home in Austin while living out of state? There are a few more things you’ll want to take into consideration as you embark on your homebuying journey.

  • Find a top-notch local realtor. A great realtor is an amazing asset when buying a house, whether you live in the market already or not. But if you’re looking at homes long distance, seek out a professional with detailed knowledge of the local area, excellent contacts and client reviews, and a history of open communication.
  • Do your own research. Your realtor can help you stay on top of a dynamic housing market, but only you can decide where in the city you want to live. Look at maps, read guidebooks, local news outlets, and community blogs to figure out which areas are most appealing to you. And if you can, an in-person trip to the city is a great way to get a feel for your potential new home.

3. Consider the suburbs.

Many would-be Austinites are drawn to the city for its beautiful outdoor spaces, music and film festivals, thriving dining culture, and its lovable “weirdness”. Some first time Austin homebuyers might think the only way to enjoy these amenities is to live within city limits. This is a common house hunting mistake! Unlike many other large cities, Austin is relatively compact. This means that even if you buy in one of the nearby suburbs, all the joys that Austin has to offer are still only 15-20 minutes away.

House hunting in nearby communities like Leander, Round Rock, Pflugerville, and Buda can help you find more houses in your price range. With lower real estate prices outside Austin City Limits, this also means you can be more competitive with any offers you do decide to make, thereby increasing the chances that your name will soon be on the deed for that house you fell in love with.

4. Don’t limit yourself to a move-in ready home.

Another common mistake many people make when buying a home is looking for one that is move-in ready. While it would be wonderful to simply arrive on your new home’s doorstep and settle in, houses in perfect condition are usually snapped up quickly and for a premium. Instead, you might think about finding a place that is either outdated or in need of a few repairs—but make sure the repairs in question are nothing that can’t be fixed with a bit of elbow grease. It’s always a good idea to conduct a house inspection before putting in an offer on any home, but this is especially true for older homes, or those in need of some TLC.

If you do find a fixer-upper in decent condition on the Austin housing market, competition is usually less fierce, and as a result these homes are less expensive and easier to close on. As an added bonus, if you’re able to take an outdated home and bring it to the modern day, you might make a larger profit if you ever decide to sell in the future.

5. Get creative with your calendar.

It’s no secret that most open houses take place on the weekends. If you scroll through any real estate website or drive through a neighborhood of interest, you’ll be bombarded with invitations to view available homes on Saturdays and Sundays. While going in person to view homes you’re interested in is a great idea—you get a better feel for the space and the surrounding neighborhood—the day of the week you go to see them can have an impact on whether you can one day call that space home.

Consider scheduling showings with your real estate agent during the week, rather than on weekends. By scheduling a viewing on, say, a Tuesday, you can view the home at your leisure, without other potential buyers distracting you as they traipse through the rooms. Not only will the viewing experience be more enjoyable, but you also might be able to put in an offer sooner—increasing your chances of securing the home for you and your family.

Start Your House Hunt

Buying a home in Austin? Level up your house hunting game! When you explore your lending options and complete your prequalification before you start house hunting, you can stay competitive in a tight market.

Looking for some local help? Our team of real estate experts is happy to talk with you about your homebuying journey, and we offer prequalification!

Ready to get prequalified?

Apply today and start your journey toward your new home.

Erin Osterhaus

Erin is a personal finance writer based in Austin, Texas. Her work has been featured on TechRepublic, Yahoo Small Business, and Entrepreneur.com. She’s been passionate about helping others manage their money since she successfully paid off $60,000 in student loans in four years. When she’s not writing, Erin loves reading, studying languages, and spending time with her family.