On the one hand, it seems odds that after all the people and businesses we’ve had as part of our Spotlight Series, we’ve never actually had a realtor before. On the other hand, it might seem odd that an apartment business might promote non-apartment real estate choices. But obviously, not everyone wants to live in an apartment for the entire lives. So we have no problem shining the spotlight on the realtors makign Austin better.
And there was no question that we had to start with Jenn Salladay. I’ve known her the better part of the decade and she is absolutely the first person we’d refer to anyone looking to buy and sell houses in Austin.
Settle in and take a few minutes to learn about her and how to buy your first home in this edition of our Spotlight Series.
EAA: When did you get to Austin?
Jenn: I moved to Austin in 2003 to attend graduate school at the University of Texas. Hook em’ horn. Part of a devout Longhorn family that bleeds burnt orange, I visited Austin regularly as a kid attending UT football games knowing I was destined to live here. It’s changed quite a bit over the years, but remains the BEST place to live in Texas.
EAA: How did you get into real estate?
Jenn: My first intro into my passion started in Waco, TX in 2002 where I worked for a successful Realtor. I was attending Baylor working towards my BBA with a double major in real estate, and I wanted hands on experience so she taught me the ropes.
Later, I was able to pair this experience with my corporate marketing background in Austin’s infrastructure to begin consulting with local real estate brokerages, later following my passions to becoming a licensed agent.
EAA: Who are your ideal clients?
Jenn: I work with a variety of clients – buyers, sellers, and investors looking to buy/sell condos, homes, multifamily, land, and farm & ranch. From first-time home-buyers, to move up families, to retirees, I love working with people from all walks of life.
I’ve worked and lived all around the Greater Austin area. I specialize in South, Central, and East Austin, Westlake, as well as the TX Hill Country. Dripping Springs, Driftwood, Bee Caves, Lakeway, and Wimberely I mean.
EAA: What makes you different from other agents?
Jenn: I treat my clients like family and am highly tuned into their needs as a real estate advisor. Together, we create a custom gameplan at the start tailored to their specific needs and timeline. Throughout the transaction and after, I serve my clients as an advisor (often a real estate therapist also) as we together weigh the pros and cons of each decision along the way. And my services continue long after the purchase or sale, when it comes to taxes, homestead exemptions, refinancing, advising on renovations that add value, providing vendor referrals, and more.
My clients enjoy my professionalism and structure with breaking down the steps into achievable, less stressful weekly tasks. I drive the process and my clients ultimately make the decisions with my guidance at every step.
And most importantly, I try to keep things fun. I tend to be a bubbly person and excellent problem solver, so smiles and positivity go a long way with keeping all parties involved in a real estate transaction on track with my client’s end goal being the priority.
EAA: When is it a good time to buy your first home?
Jenn: Sooner rather than later! Austin has experienced steady appreciation in the real estate market for many years due to demand. Austin often tops the “best of” lists for singles, families, retirees, etc, who love the Austin lifestyle. And the city regularly gives incentives to bring large employers like Oracle, Tesla, and Apple to Austin, who enjoy the talent of one of the most educated workforces in the US.
There is a shortage in housing with new demand coming, so it’s a great time to invest and build equity while rates are low.
EAA: I grant I’m professionally biased, but buying a house seems like a big pain. I don’t even know how to take care of a house.
Jenn: Then a condo with minimal maintenance and less liability could be the perfect option for you. After a few years, you can cash out the equity or flip into an investment property with cash flow. A mortgage is like forced savings, and a great way to build equity for your future.
EAA: So I guess I should go empty out my savings for a down payment then?
Jenn: Not true. Most buyers purchase with 5-10% down. FHA programs are also available with as little as 3.5% down, and there are down payment assistance programs, grants, and lender incentives than can help cover closings costs. A mortgage insurance premium, PMI, is added on top of monthly payments for loans less than 20% down, but with low rates and homes appreciating quickly, it doesn’t take long to achieve 20% equity and remove PMI.
EAA: So I guess I should stop what I doing and go pick out a house and then go get a loan.
Jenn: In this hot market where properties sometimes sell in hours, there isn’t time. Get prequalified is the first step to setting the budget. Qualifying for a mortgage is easy, but more in-depth than buying a car. Often small things may pop up on your credit that have a big impact – like old medical claims, credit cards that were paid off but not closed out, etc. A prequalification is good for many months and ideal to secure months before you buy. And, the prequalification letter will be required with any offer.
EAA: What would you recommend to people moving here?
Jenn: Austin is an amazing, open-minded, creative city with something for EVERYONE. Joining online groups, attending social events, or taking classes around your passion is a great way to make new friends and find the part of town that resonates with you.
And if you are new to Texas, finding a pool and a spectacular margarita will help you adjust to your first Texas summer. I can help with that!
EAA: What is your favorite Austin thing that most people don’t know about?
Jenn: Given the times and need for social distancing, I highly recommend getting out to the hill country for some fun and fresh air.
The Austin Zoo is a small rescue zoo with train ride perfect for exploring with the littles.
There are numerous breweries to enjoy under the live oaks. Places like Treaty Oak, Jester King, and 12 Fox Brewery. There are also local wineries like Duchman Family Winery and Bell Springs Winery. There is so much to explore in Fredericksburg for a weekend getaway.
At Christmas, one of my favorite, lesser known Austin-esque traditions is walking 37th street to see the lights. All the homes on the street participate in quirky displays that truly embody the spirit and weirdness we love in Austin.