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Buyers can now enjoy in-person open houses without an appointment

During the height of the pandemic, most open houses were virtual or required extreme precautions.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin housing market continues to boom and can only ramp up with the return of in-person open houses.

"Back to the fun part of looking for a house and see the walls and everything looks so different than on a computer," said buyer Sharon McDonough. 

With more people vaccinated, homebuyers like McDonough can step from behind the computer screen and walk into an open house without an appointment. 

Realtor and owner of multiple Remax brokerages Mary Ann McMahon said it is surely different from the extreme precautions they took during the pandemic's height. 

"I personally would host open houses just like today, live on my phone on Facebook," said McMahon. "I've shown several homes where they had a kit outside with gloves and booties and hand sanitizers or wipes. 

McMahon said, now, wearing a mask to tour is an option, but she keeps one handy. 

With less than a month of inventory and a recent Redfin report showing 1,500 homes in Austin sold for more than $100,000 over the asking price, McDonough said popping in for a tour is now the easy part of buying a home. 

"There are no perfect homes now," said McDonough.

"You have to think about the concessions you have to give up, and that can be difficult for people," said Realtor Anna McDonough.

Sharon McDonough is on both sides of the tug of war. As she searches for a new home, she is also waiting for the perfect time to sell her current house. 

"I am downsizing, so it is a little easier, but because the price of my home is going up so much, you tend to be a little greedy, not knowing when enough is enough," said Sharon McDonough. 

One of the homes McMahon is showing is a two-bed, two-bath condominium in Westlake listed at $749,000.

"There is nothing in the market at this price point in the Eanes school district," said McMahon. "The entry-level to get in is above a million today, so to be able to find something for $750,000 is good." 

McMahon said she will continue to hold virtual tours just because of how convenient they are for people who live out of town.

Saturday's open house was quite busy for McMahon. She said if you're in the market, make sure you have a plan.

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