Central Texas Real Estate and Community News

April 16, 2021

Got Half-Done Home Improvement Projects? Here's Why and How To Finally Finish the Job

Thoughtful family taking a break from painting their house

With everyone spending more time at home, many people are embarking on home improvement projects that, alas, never seem to get finished. Like that half-painted laundry room or the closet organization system that's still sitting in its box. We all have them. So why is it so hard to follow through to get them done?

"While the fabulous remodeling shows on TV transform a space from disaster to dream in under 30 minutes, in reality, there is much to consider when attempting this feat in your own home," says Dawn Mahan, founder of PMOtraining.com, which helps teach people the fundamentals of successful project management—whether that's at the office or around the house. “People just want to jump in and get started, and then wonder why they find themselves at The Home Depot 47 times."

So what home improvement projects might benefit from pre-production prep? Mahan suggests that redecorating a room, cleaning up the garage, remodeling a bathroom, landscaping, or pretty much anything that doesn't involve one tool and 10 minutes could all benefit.

"If you have something that is bothering you about your home and you have an idea for how it could be better, it will help you accomplish your goal by applying a few professional project management techniques," says Mahan. "That way, you can get what you want, when you want it, for a cost you are comfortable paying, all while keeping your blood pressure in check."

Here's how you can keep your DIY dreams from lingering in limbo, whether it's a new project or one that's been sitting half-done for months.

Step 1: Define clearly the problem you are trying to solve

The first step for setting your project up for success is to clearly define the problem you're trying to solve.

"I find that most people start with the solution and not the problem," says Mahan. "Step 1 is the most important, because if you don’t define the problem and instead jump to the solution, you may end up with an outcome that doesn’t actually solve your problem. You also risk overengineering the solution, costing you in time, money, and aggravation."   

Mahan suggests that to get to the root of what you are really hoping to accomplish, ask yourself "Why?" until you've isolated your true objective. For example, let's say you want to remodel your kitchen. Ask yourself "Why am I feeling like I need to remodel my kitchen?" and also perhaps "What specifically about the kitchen don't I like?" You may discover that you don't hate your whole kitchen, and instead just dislike the countertops, which would be a much simpler thing to replace.

Step 2: Decide what 'done' looks like

Once you have defined the problem you're trying to solve, deciding what "done" looks like is much easier to accomplish. And this step is important, so don't end up tinkering to death.

One way to start this conversation would be to finish the phrase “Imagine if...” Work through the conversation until the reply to your “Imagine if...” statement is the equivalent of, “Oh now that would be wonderful!” 

To make the vision clearer, you can gather pictures of what you want, from paint strips to Pinterest boards, then place them in the area you want to improve. Once you're sure that your ultimate vision is clear, you’re ready for the next step.

Step 3: Prioritize your delivery objectives

Now that you know the problem you are trying to solve and what the desired outcome is, it’s time to think about the transformation process.

"Like any makeover, you can spend a little or a lot of money," says Mahan. "It can take a little or a lot of time. It can require a little or a lot of pain." But money, time, and strife are not the only things to consider. 

Mahan suggests that you rank your delivery objectives—budget, time, quality—from 1 (highest importance) to 3 (lowest importance). Focus on why each objective is in its position, because that will inform your decisions in both planning the project and keeping it on track.

Here's what to ponder to ensure that expectations are set in the beginning:

  • Budget: While you do need to think about how much you are willing to spend, the question here is about how important cost is in getting what you want. If you have an unlimited budget, cost should be No. 3 in your ranking. If keeping this project as cheap as possible is your top goal, then cost is No. 1. If you are willing to spend more money to get higher quality, then cost ranks below quality, and so on.
  • Time: Are you willing to wait longer to pay less? If so, time will be lower than budget in your ranking. Are you willing to take extra time for something to be done right? If speed is more important than a cut corner or two, then put time higher on your list than quality.
  • Quality: How important is perfection to you? "Is an eighth of an inch off going to drive you crazy, or can you live with it?" says Mahan.

Step 4:  Plan for the unexpected

"Before you start the project, imagine what could go wrong," says Mahan. "Then think, 'What could I do differently to avoid that from happening?'"

This isn't about full-on disaster planning; rather, it's a way of avoiding setbacks and preventing damage to other parts of your house while you're trying to improve it. Returning to the hated countertops, for example, visualize them being removed and think about what could get damaged in the process (e.g., the wall, the sink, the electrical sockets, the cupboards, etc.). Then do a little research on what could preemptively be done to avoid the damage from occurring.

Step 5: Take small steps and celebrate each one

Step 5 is all about challenging yourself to think as tiny as possible. For instance, can you do a little something to move your project forward each weekend? Can you break your project into baby steps and celebrate each one?

"By breaking a complex project down into tiny steps that can be accomplished in the time you have, you can feel great about your progress toward your vision without stressing yourself out," says Mahan. "Even better, put these tiny moves on the calendar such that you can see how long it might take you to get it done."

Seeing the schedule with a few place holders for the unexpected prepares your mind for how long you have to live with the current project in progress, and when you will feel that sigh of relief when your space is transformed.

Source:  https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/how-to-finish-your-home-improvement-project/

April 16, 2021

Tax Breaks for Homeowners

A guide to homeowner tax deductions.

Owning a home has its rewards and challenges — and that’s especially true at tax time.

Depending on your circumstances, the tax rules around homeownership can lessen your tax obligation when it comes time to file. But before diving into all the math, it’s worth considering which type of deduction makes the most financial sense for your situation.

When you file taxes as an individual taxpayer or a married couple, you have two choices that help determine whether you owe or are owed money from the federal government: You can take the standard deduction or you can add up your applicable expenses you’re allowed to deduct from your income. 

Taking the standard deduction will reduce your taxable income by $13,000 if you’re an individual or $24,000 if you’re married and filing a joint return. If the expenses you’re allowed to deduct add up to more than the standard deduction, it makes sense to itemize.

Whether you’re filing taxes for the first time as a homeowner, filing after a recent refinance or just sold a home, read below to review some of the tax deductions for homeowners as the filing deadline approaches.

Before we do, the all-important disclaimer: Tax results can vary based on your specific set of facts and circumstances.  Consult with a tax professional or certified public accountant to determine how these and other tax ramifications of rental property ownership apply to you. 

Mortgage interest deduction

If you bought an expensive home in 2020 — or increased the size of your mortgage with a cash-out refinance — it could be worth your while to itemize to capture the mortgage interest deduction. The only way to tell is to add up your deductions to see if they amount to more than the standard deduction.

If you refinanced into a lower rate mortgage on the same amount, you could find that the standard deduction is a better choice this year.

Those who do itemize deductions can deduct mortgage interest paid on principals up to $750,000 by filing IRS form 1040 with a Schedule A to itemize deductions.

The Tax Foundation, a not-for-profit think tank, estimated in 2018 that only about 14% of U.S. homes would be worth enough to take advantage of the mortgage interest deduction. This is in part due to a significant increase in the standard deduction in 2018 as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, making the interest deduction less meaningful.

Deductions for a second home or vacation home

The IRS defines a qualified home as a main or second home that can be a house, condominium, cooperative, mobile home, house trailer, boat or similar property that has sleeping, cooking and toilet facilities. A main home is the place where you ordinarily live most of the time. The IRS has two definitions for second homes:

  1. A second home that is not rented out: If the home is not up for sale or rent to others at any time during the year, you can treat it as a qualified home and do not necessarily have to use it during the year.
  2. A second home that is rented out: If the home is rented out for part of the year, it must also be used as a home for a portion of that year. The home must be used for a minimum of 14 days or 10 percent of the number of days that the property is rented out, whichever is longer. If the property is not used long enough the IRS classifies it as rental property.

Property taxes

Property taxes — the annual tax you pay based on the value of your property is also tax deductible up to a point. You can generally deduct up to $10,000 in combined state and local income, sales and property taxes for all properties owned. (The amount is $5,000 for married people who file taxes separately.)

Home equity loan 

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) gives homeowners a loan which they can then use for large expenses or to consolidate higher-interest rate debt on other loans. If you used the money from the HELOC to pay for home improvements or if the combined total of your first mortgage balance and your HELOC don’t exceed $750,000, the interest may be tax deductible for homeowners.

Mortgage points and origination fees

If you used a mortgage to buy your home in 2020,  the origination fees and/or discount points you you paid in association with that mortgage are considered prepaid interest and may be deducted. Your closing documents will show what you paid in origination fees and points. 

Typically the costs you paid to third-parties for such things as title insurance, appraisal fees, recording fees, etc. are not tax deductible.  

Mortgage insurance on your primary home

You can deduct mortgage insurance premiums as an itemized deduction.

Households with adjusted gross incomes (AIG) of $100,000 or less are allowed to deduct 100% of their mortgage insurance premiums. The deduction is reduced by 10 percent for each additional $1,000 of adjusted gross household income, and is not available to households with earnings over $109,000.

Married individuals filing separate returns who have adjusted gross incomes of $50,000 or less will be able to deduct 50 percent of their mortgage insurance premiums. The deduction is reduced by 5 percent for each additional $500 of adjusted gross income, phasing out after $54,500.

Mortgage insurance is not a deductible for second homes or rental property.

Capital gains from selling a home

If you sold your main home and made a profit, you may be able to exclude that profit from your taxable income. Here’s how it works.

$250,000 Exclusion on the Sale of a Main Home

Individuals can exclude up to $250,000 in profit from the sale of a main home (or $500,000 for a married couple filing jointly) as long as you have owned the home and lived in it for a minimum of two years. (The two years do not have to be consecutive. As long as you live in the house as your principal residence for at least 24 months in the five years prior to the sale, the deduction applies.  

Generally, you can claim the exclusion only once every two years. Some exceptions do apply.

If you lived in your home less than 24 months, you may be able to exclude a portion of the gain. Exceptions are allowed if you sold your house because the location of your job changed, because of health concerns, or for some other unforeseen circumstance.

Resources for more information

Those are just some of the highlights that might affect you as a homeowner or seller. Your tax advisor can answer specific questions, and you also can find more information here: 

Source:  https://www.zillow.com/resources/stay-informed/2021/03/25/tax-breaks-for-homeowners/

April 16, 2021

What Are Some Effective Selling Strategies When It Comes to Selling Your House With Cash?

Selling your house to a group of fast closing house buyers will give you many advantages that you will surely enjoy especially as long as you get right money house selling business which will purchase your house for a price that suits you and give you the cash that you need. But before you go out there and start looking for a house buyer, you should first prepare yourself on how you can sell your house to this particular group of people. Here are some things that you can do in order to prepare yourself on how you can sell your house with the least amount of effort.

You can hire a real estate agent to help you out with house selling and get rid of your property. This is definitely one of the best things that you can do especially if you have lots of cash and you would like to get rid of your property without putting in too much effort. Real estate agents are very experienced and can also provide you with helpful information that can help you understand the steps and processes that need to be done in order to sell your house fast.

A real estate agent will also help make things easier for you and he can even suggest you with some good options that you can consider when it comes to selling your house. You can also ask your family and friends if they are interested in becoming house buyers. There are a lot of people who are interested in this type of business and they might be interested in helping you out with selling your house. You can also go online and look for a list of home buyers and contact them to set up an appointment.

Another thing that can help you get rid of your property fast is to hire a good real estate agent to help you with selling your house fast. The agent will make sure that your home is properly promoted so that potential buyers will have a chance of getting interested in your home. Real estate agents can also provide you with useful information about the different properties that are for sale in your area and how much money you can expect to get from them.

You can also consider using a cash service instead of approaching a real estate agent. With a cash service, all you would need to do is to advertise your home to potential buyers using the Internet. This is one way of ensuring that your home gets the attention that it needs from buyers since you don’t have to spend too much on advertisements. Legit buyers would then approach you and try to become interested in purchasing your house.

Some home buyers might not be willing to pay too much for a house. So you can always choose to go with a cash offer instead of going with a cash service. A cash offer is usually a pre-qualification for a real estate transaction. The seller would voluntarily agree to give you cash payment for your home if you agree to certain terms and conditions. Before you agree to any cash offer, always make sure that there are no errors in your offer or there might be other disadvantages in it so that you don’t end up in a losing situation when selling your home quickly.

You can explore even more in this related post – https://www.huffpost.com/entry/best-time-to-sell-a-house_n_56f99740e4b0143a9b48f62a

Source:  https://besthousesellingguide.wordpress.com/2021/04/16/what-are-some-effective-selling-strategies-when-it-comes-to-selling-your-house-with-cash/

April 16, 2021

The Most Popular Landscaping Trends for 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic kept many people home for the majority of 2020. And while things are definitely looking up, many are still spending more time at home in 2021, which is driving an uptick in home renovations—including landscaping.

So, the question is—what are the trends homeowners are embracing to spruce up their outdoor space?

recent video from realtor.com outlined the most popular landscaping trends of 2021, including:

  • Vegetable gardens. The pandemic saw many people start their own vegetable gardens, both as a way to stay busy and a way to avoid any unnecessary trips to the supermarket. With spring planting season around the corner, vegetable gardening is, once again, poised to be one of the year’s biggest landscaping trends.
  • Views from the inside. Obviously, you want your landscaping to look great while you’re outside. But as people have been forced to spend more time at home, it’s become increasingly important for your landscaping to also look great from the inside. As the pandemic stretches on, this trend of landscaping with interior views in mind is expected to stretch right along with it.
  • Backyard playgrounds. Many parents have been uncomfortable bringing their children to play in public parks. As a result, creating play spaces in the backyard has been a big landscaping trend since the pandemic hit—and with summer coming up, that trend will just continue to gain popularity.

Source:  https://innercircle.lightersideofrealestate.com/articles/market-news/current-market-news/the-most-popular-landscaping-trends-for-2021

April 16, 2021

Hutto's annual crawfish festival, car show happening April 17

The crawfish boil is $16 a plate and includes a pound and a half of crawfish. (Courtesy Chamber of Commerce)


The crawfish boil is $16 a plate and includes a pound and a half of crawfish. (Courtesy Chamber of Commerce)

The Hutto Chamber of Commerce will host the annual crawfish festival and car show April 17 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. in downtown Hutto.

Around 70 food and retail vendors will have booths from East Street to West Pecan Street and Farley Street to FM 1660, with downtown Hutto business doors open as well, said Sonia Herrera, the chamber's finance and information specialist. The chief sponsor for the event is Alliance Auto Auction in Austin, which donated $2,500 to offset costs for the festival, she said.

The crawfish boil is $16 a plate and includes a pound and a half of crawfish, Herrera said. Hot dogs and sausage wraps will be available as well.

Vendors will include Tropical Sno shaved ice, ATX Homemade Jerky, Scentsy scented products and Pecos Pete's Natural Tea and Soda, she said.

There will also be live music from country music singer Pete Benz, who will perform from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Herrera said.

Hutto Professional Firefighters Association will host a car show, which will take place for the duration of the festival. Registration for the car show is $20 and any car can participate, she said. To register, contact association president Levy Chuey through email chuey@huttofirerescue.org or call 737-259-1641.

Social distancing and masks are recommended for the outdoor event, Herrera said.

Source:  https://communityimpact.com/austin/pflugerville-hutto/events/2021/04/15/huttos-annual-crawfish-festival-car-show-happening-april-17/

April 9, 2021

Round Rock Named One Of Best Cities To Buy A House In America

The city has earned one of the top 15 spots for best places to buy a house in America, according to Niche's 2021 Best Cities to Buy ranking.

Round Rock has earned one of the top 15 spots for best places to buy a house in America, according to Niche's 2021 Best Cities to Buy ranking.

Round Rock has earned one of the top 15 spots for best places to buy a house in America, according to Niche's 2021 Best Cities to Buy ranking. (Meagan Falcon/Patch)

ROUND ROCK, TX — Round Rock has earned one of the top 15 spots for best places to buy a house in America, according to Niche's 2021 Best Cities to Buy ranking.

The small-town in Central Texas was named 14th best city to buy a house in America. Other Texas cities that earned the top spots were The Woodlands (#2), Plano (#4) and Richardson (#7).

Round Rock has also earned 19th place in Best Cities to Raise a Family in America, 20th place in Cities with the Best Public Schools in America and 29th place in Best Cities to Live in America.

The rankings were determined by home values, property taxes, home ownership rates, housing costs, and real estate trends using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, FBI, CDC and other agencies, combined with reviews from people that live in the area.

The rankings consider a variety of topics to determine a town or city's standing, including affordability, local housing market, neighborhood diversity, local public schools and walkability, to name a few.

The median home value in Round Rock is $244,300, which is close to the national average that stands at $217,500.

Round Rock also earned high marks for its public schools, as well as its ranking for families, jobs and diversity options — all of which earned an A- or A+ ranking.

The city has earned one of the top 15 spots for best places to buy a house in America, according to Niche's 2021 Best Cities to Buy ranking. (Shutterstock). 

The enclave's standing took a bit of a hit when it comes to housing, cost of living, outdoor activities, commute and nightlife, which earned a B- or B+ rating.

The lowest rating for the community in total was crime and safety, which earned a C+ rating. Based on crime statistics, the city has a high number of thefts (1,519) per 100,000 residents.

Burglaries, assaults, motor vehicle thefts and robberies were high for the city; however, rape and murder cases were low, according to Niche's research.

Nationally, Niche's research found that Overland Park, KS was the best place to buy a home in America, while The Woodlands, TX earned the second best spot.

Source:  https://patch.com/texas/round-rock/round-rock-named-one-best-cities-buy-house-america

April 9, 2021

Fun Things to Do in Austin This Weekend: April 9-11

Photo courtesy @caffeineandgasoline.x.

From a movie date with your pet to embracing Austin’s art and music scene, here’s your scoop on what to do in the city this weekend.

Explore Native Hostel’s Mesmerize Gallery (April 9-11)

Explore and play in amateur tinkerer and artist-turned-explorer Mesmer’s narrative art adventure. Mesmer created an environment filled with cosmic curiosities and visual shows for people to explore. Promising to be “no ordinary gallery,” the interactive experience takes place at Native Hostel with tickets priced at $25.


Catch a Free Performance by Shinyribs’ Kevin Russell (April 9)

For Austin Monthly and Texas Music Magazine’s next Front Porch Session, Kevin Russell and the Shiny Soul Sisters will be performing live from Still Austin Whiskey Co.’s South Austin distillery. To watch, visit Austin Monthly’s Facebook page or YouTube channel starting at 7 p.m.


Watch a Live Painting Contest at Hi Sign Brewing (April 10)

Peruse artwork created by 15 of Austin’s most notorious artists and vendors during Hi Sign Brewing and Cover Zero Creatives’ Austin Open Art Project. Along with a live painting contest, the family-friendly (and dog-friendly!) event will also feature live music and plenty of brews from noon to 6 p.m.


Jam Out to Live Music at Independence Brewing Co. (April 10)

Headlined by Dayeater and The Khost, Independence Brewing Co. is hosting a live outdoor concert this weekend. Tickets are sold in pods to promote social distancing, but be sure to round up the crew and arrive a little early: an on-site happy hour starts at 4 p.m. for guests to enjoy craft beer and bites from Margie’z food truck. The first performance kicks off at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $20-$40.


Bring Your Dog to the Drive-In (April 10-11)

Forget BYOB—at The Ultimate Drive-In, it’s all about BYOD (bring your own dog). All pets are welcome this weekend with movie selections being especially animal-themed (think Secret Life of Pets 2Zootopia, and more). Tickets are $5 and proceeds will be donated to Austin Pets Alive!.


Rummage Through the City-Wide Vintage Sale (April 10-11)

Embark on your own personal treasure hunt at the City-Wide Vintage Sale on April 11, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and April 10, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. An Austin original since 1977, the event features upcycled and repurposed merchandise from numerous vendors, offering the perfect opportunity to discover collectibles for the home or unique gifts for family and friends. Admission is $7.


Become a Mini Golf Champion at Dreamland (April 10-11)

Think you’re a putt-putt master? Test out your skills during Dreamland’s Mini Golf Masters. With a first-place prize of $1,200 and a $100 buy-in fee, the tournament will feature 18 holes played on the red, green, and black pars of the venue’s Challenge Course. For more information, visit their website.

Source:  https://www.austinmonthly.com/fun-things-to-do-in-austin-this-weekend-april-9-11/

April 9, 2021

3 Alt Credit-scoring Methods

New types of data to determine prospective buyers’ creditworthiness may increase homeownership opportunities for Black and Hispanic Americans. However, standards need to be developed for the use of such data—which come from sources outside traditional credit bureaus—to ensure equitable and responsible lending practices, experts said Thursday during a National Association of REALTORS® webinar on alternative credit scoring.

Ann Schnare and Vanessa Perry, authors of the white paper “Tipping the SCALE: How Alternative Data in Credit Scoring Promote or Impede Fair Lending Goals,” said 21% of Black households and 19% of Hispanic households are considered “unscorable” because they don’t have access to traditional credit. Schnare and Perry suggested that three alternative data sets could help lenders determine “credit-invisible” consumers’ eligibility for loan products, including:

  1. Credit proxies: Payment histories for bills such as rent, utilities, and other financial obligations, which can suggest a person’s ability to pay and likelihood to default.
  2. Banking data: Account balances, check-writing history, and savings—information that can tell lenders whether a person is financially stable.
  3. Nonfinancial personal data: Data harvested from a person’s digital footprint, such as spending patterns and social media activity suggestive of their purchasing power or financial status.

“Minorities are far more likely to be ‘unscorable’ or have relatively weak credit scores using traditional credit bureau data,” said Schnare, president of AB Schnare Associates, a consulting firm specializing in housing and mortgage finance. “Incorporating additional data into the credit evaluation process can open doors for many deserving borrowers and boost minority homeownership rates.” She added that some countries where credit agencies don’t exist are already using alternative data to shape lending practices.

But such data could be misused without legal safeguards, said Perry, professor of marketing, strategic management, and public policy at The George Washington University’s School of Business. “When we start looking at how and where people spend their money, those kinds of indicators can be proxies for race, gender, or neighborhood,” Perry said. “Some of the same issues can apply in the case of social media data. People are assigned a trustworthiness score based on who they associate with online, which is obviously problematic.”

Schnare said banking data likely is the most promising source of alternative data for credit scoring because it’s a more objective way to evaluate someone’s finances and requires the consumer’s approval, which offers a layer of privacy protection. No matter which source of data is used, though, any lending practices around alternative credit scoring should meet the standards of what Schnare and Perry call SCALE.

  • Societal values: Does the practice respect social and ethical norms, such as the right to privacy?
  • Contextual integrity: Regardless of predictive value, is it relevant to mortgages?
  • Accuracy: Does the data accurately reflect the household’s financial situation?
  • Legality: Would the use of the data have a disparate impact on protected classes?
  • Expanded opportunity: Would the use of the data increase the number of qualified borrowers?

“The rise of big data greatly expands the options for credit scoring,” Perry noted. “However, predictability is not enough to justify the use of certain kinds of data. Their use must also be consistent with broader social and ethical values.”

NAR President Charlie Oppler said during the webinar that the association plans to use Schnare and Perry’s research to help shape its policy positions and inform its future advocacy efforts on credit scoring.

“A borrower’s credit report and credit score are the gateway to a mortgage,” Oppler said. “But for too long, inaccurate credit reporting methods have raised the cost to borrow while limiting access to mortgage credit for prospective borrowers, particularly those from minority populations and rural communities.”

Source:  https://magazine.realtor/daily-news/2021/04/09/3-alt-credit-scoring-methods

April 9, 2021

Inspecting For Termites

Have a fear of termites or looking to tidy up your home? Check Orkin's infographic on termites to learn where they hide indoors and outdoors!

A visual guide from the pest control company, Orkin, showing indoor and outdoor hotbeds for termite infestations.

Source:  https://www.orkin.com/press-room/orkin-top-termite-cities-2021?utm_source=pressrelease&utm_campaign=JSPRESS

April 9, 2021

97 Offers on One Listing?

Vector image of hands grabbing at house

© photocanal25 - DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images

The buying frenzy continues as multiple offers become the norm and buyers offer thousands or tens of thousands above the asking price to try to get the home they want. In many cases, buyers also are increasingly waiving appraisals and even some inspections to make their offers stand out.

Buyers are also feeling a greater sense of urgency as mortgage rates begin to rise, and they’re eager to lock in a low rate ahead of any further increases.

“Fifteen offers, 25 offers, we even had one last week with 97 offers—and the list price is the starting point,” Mark Wolfe, broker-owner of RE/MAX DFW Associates, told the Dallas Business Journal. “An agent in our firm received 17 offers on a property before they cut off receiving additional offers. Twelve of the offers were cash, all above list, and most buyers not even seeing the home. They are just grabbing.”

Nationwide, 36% of homes sold above list price in February, the highest share on record, according to housing data from Redfin. The most competitive markets in February were Oakland, Calif., where 70.5% of homes sold above list price, followed by San Jose, Calif. (66.6%); Tacoma, Wash. (65.7%); Sacramento, Calif. (62.3%); and Austin, Texas (57.3%), according to Redfin’s research.

“This is the strongest seller’s market since at least 2006,” says Daryl Fairweather, Redfin’s chief economist. “Buyers outnumber sellers by such a huge margin that many homeowners are staying put because they know how hard it would be to find a place to move to. It seems like the only move-up buyers who are confident enough to list their homes are those who are relocating to a more affordable area where they’ll have an edge on the local competition.”

Despite the rapid price increases, this isn’t a housing bubble, housing economists say.

“Yes, some buyers are overpaying for homes, particularly those who are moving to affordable destinations and paying well over asking prices to win homes in bidding wars,” Fairweather says. “But these buyers are often covering any shortfall in the bank’s appraisal amount and locking in low monthly mortgage payments that they can easily afford. As mortgage rates rise, I expect demand to settle down and be better balanced by more new listings as high home prices lure more sellers to the market.”