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Real Estate is waking up, learn how to protest your property taxes, & what the economics folks are saying

Friday, May 8, 2020   /   by Russ Phillips

Real Estate is waking up, learn how to protest your property taxes, & what the economics folks are saying

I miss hugs.  I'll admit it.  How about you?  How are things with you and your family? 

I once showed a luxury home that had grey concrete floors and every wall and cabinet was white.  The asking price was well north of a million dollars but the decor prompted my clients to comment "This house was designed by someone that never got enough hugs...."   I am pretty sure my dentist's office offered more warmth and "homey feelings."   Doing my job with a mask, not shaking hands, and all the other COVID related behaviors reminded me of that story. 

So, really...how are you?  Everyone has a story, and I'm interested to hear yours.  Reply back with the good, the bad, the prayer requests, the victories and the challenges.  We'd love to hear from you. 

I was very thankful for all the responses to my last email.  Though it was meant to encourage everyone I know, I found myself greatly encouraged by the responses.  It was overwhelming, actually.  So thank you!  
In the last two months, I've seen both the hand of God at work in my life, and I've seen the other end of the spectrum....which looks like me working in pajamas without shaving for awhile.  LOL. 

Like many of you, we had kids doing online school while we were busy working.  It has been an extraordinarily challenging time of digging deep into our systems and software to discover new ways of doing things and improving upon things we were already doing.  We now offer a whole host of online video capabilities, and thanks to the 3 1/2 years I spent in the radio business back in the early 90's....well, I'm excited to be broadcasting again.  In fact, next Tuesday my team is doing an online seminar on what you need to know to fight your property taxes.  Your online protest deadline is May 15th, so register and join us on Tuesday the 12th as Ashley and I talk about strategies we've used to save ourselves a bunch of money over the years.  Here's the link to register.   We've also put together our first ever Worldwide Interactive Virtual Open Houses and uploaded some video walkthroughs to YouTube and learned so much more.  

Not bad for a guy who, after 50, seems to need sticky notes to remind him to make sure his fly is zipped, eh?   
All kidding aside, we have been very fortunate, and the inevitable question keeps coming up:  "How's the market?"  Well, glad you asked.  

I began tracking the numbers of new contracts going pending in the weeks after Shelter-in-Place began.  Consistently, both Williamson and Travis Counties were seeing over 40% less pending contracts each week compared to the same week in 2019.  Mostly the new pending contracts seemed to be in the lower price points, which made sense to me as many higher priced properties are owned by demographics that are further along in their careers (and in many cases also in age).  When you consider that the news was telling us all that "the elderly are the most vulnerable," many folks with means decided it was not the time to shop. 

That said, there's GOOD NEWS to be heard.  

In my almost 20 years of real estate, I've always tried to listen to people smarter than me in all matters of economics.  The folks I respect are being frank about things, but also being optimistic.  Here's a link to a local economist's blog about the Austin and Texas markets.   "THIS IS NOT 2008" is what I keep hearing.  To use a more picturesque analogy, if 2008 was a rodeo where the housing market got bucked off and stomped on by an angry bull....well the 2020 housing market is more like doing some mutton busting with a helmet strapped firmly on.   

I don't want to downplay the hardships that some of my friends are suffering.  Instead, I'm trying to communicate OPTIMISM to you.  In spite of all that's happened, my team still managed to close 20 properties in April.  We used remote online notaries.  We conducted closings under tents in title company parking lots.  We carried Clorox wipes and masks.  And I began to find my wife's new "Purel No. 5" perfume very attractive and she asked if I would wear a mask ALL the time....for her.  Everyone wins there.  

The point is this:  The Russ Phillips Team was willing to rise to the occasion and God blessed our efforts with results.  And now, the market is gaining strength.  Showings have picked up.  People are inquiring.  Our online videos are seeing action.  And offers are being written. 
It's not the same market we expected for 2020, but excellent credit gets you a 3.25% interest rate today.  My whole life I've figured that if I can't be pretty, I can at least maintain a 750 credit score and today's interest rates are less than half of what I qualified for years ago when I moved to Georgetown.  People are taking notice. 
We find ourselves short on listing inventory right now, as many of our friends have decided to wait and see.  If you know me at all, you'll know that we want to work on YOUR time frame (not ours).  But if you're giving any thought to selling, let's have a no-nonsense conversation.  I'll be transparent like always.  We cherish your trust as well as the people you send to us.  Please keep sending people to us...or at least point them to our Google Reviews and let them decide.  

I hope you'll join me on social media at www.facebook.com/CowsFearRussPhillips for a few laughs as we continue to weather the storm together.  And let's stay in touch.  I have long shared this passage with friends I care for, and today is my day to share it with you: 

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. - Hebrews 10:23-25

Let us hear from you!