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Rollingwood Neighborhood – Best of Austin

Rollingwood Neighborhood – Best of Austin

One of Austin’s best neighborhoods, isn’t really Austin at all, Rollingwood has been its own municipality since 1955.  The City of Rollingwood is situated just West of Mopac, North of Bee Cave Road, and South of Town Lake and is one of the best neighborhoods for those seeking an active lifestyle minutes from downtown Austin.  There are only 1,500 residents in Rollingwood and it is a tight-knit community with a neighborhood athletic club that one resident told me, “one of the best things about living here is walking to the pool during the summer, you get to see all of your neighbors.”  Most students in Rollingwood attend schools in the highly acclaimed Eanes ISD.

The annual, “Life is Good in the Wood 5k,” is coming up in April and proceeds benefit Rollingwood Parks and Recreation areas.

SEARCH ROLLINGWOOD HOMES

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Crestview Neighborhood – Best of Austin

Crestview Neighborhood – Best of Austin

Located in North Central Austin, Crestview is a great little neighborhood that features mid-century homes.  Established trees, local restaurants, coffee shops, and even a vintage grocery store, allow Crestview to be a truly walkable neighborhood.  Commuters will appreciate The Metro Rail at Crestview Station.  Bordered by Anderson Lane to the North, Justin Lane South, North Lamar East, and Burnet Road West, Crestview is minutes from downtown and the UT Campus.  Visit the Crestview Neighborhood Association’s website for some of the best information about what’s happening in the neighborhood.

As of this writing the average home in Crestview was built in 1957, has 3 beds/2 baths, 1317 s.f., was listed for $253K, and sold for $240k.  During the last 6 months the least expensive home was a 2 bed/1 bath on the market 1 day and sold for $161k.  The most expensive home was built in 2010 and sold for $406k after 302 days on the market.  In Crestview, well-priced homes sell quickly.  It isn’t unusual for the best homes in this neighborhood to sell within days of hitting the market.  If you’re interested in buying or selling a home in Crestview, give me a call: 512-228-9111.

CRESTVIEW PROPERTY SEARCH

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Investing in Austin Real Estate – Owner Occupants

Investing in Austin Real Estate – Owner Occupants

There are currently some great investment opportunities in the Austin real estate market, and one of the best ways to capitalize on market conditions is by looking at the home buying process as an investment.  When you buy the right fixer, rehab the property and live in it for at least 2 years, your first $250,000/per individual and up to $500,000/per couple is not subject to capital gains tax.  Additionally, the interest paid on your mortgage while living in your home reduces your taxable income by the amount paid.

Below are just a few of the foreclosures for sale in Austin (as of this writing there are approximates 200)

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Austin Duplexes

Austin Duplexes

Buying a duplex in Austin is an attractive option for both owner occupants and investors.  Duplexes (this applies to Triplexes, and Fourplexes as  well) with owner occupants are eligible for low down-payment loans, and in Austin, renting out the remaining unit(s) can help cover the mortgage.

Tightened lending guidelines have made it difficult for investors to buy without at least 20% down, but for those who can qualify for a loan, duplexes in Austin are a great investment.  Well-priced duplexes in Austin, don’t stay on the market long.  In fact, last weekend I looked up a duplex for an interested client, and it was already under contract after less than 14 days on the market!

An added benefit of buying a duplex as an owner-occupant, is that rental income of the non-occupied unit(s) can be considered a source of income when qualifying for a loan, and you may be able to right off depreciation, and operating expenses on the rental side.  For frugal first-time home-buyers, duplexes can be an ideal way to enter the housing market in Austin.  Often duplex buyers live in the property for several years with the intent to sell, but end up buying a single family home and keeping the duplex as well.

SEARCH AUSTIN DUPLEXES

Click the link above to start your search for duplexes in Austin, or call me at: 512-228-9111

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Best Austin Neighborhoods For Dog Owners

Best Austin Neighborhoods For Dog Owners

When considering a move, Fido is often a big consideration, here are a few of the best Austin neighborhoods for dog owners.  What makes these neighborhoods the best for dog owner’s in Austin is: proximity to parks (dog or not), large lots, and dog friendly businesses.  These neighborhoods are in no particular order.

1. Downtown Austin – While many people don’t think of downtown condo living as dog-friendly, there are many reasons that justify including this neighborhood as one of the best for dog owners.  First, the 10.1 mile Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail is practically your backyard.  If you’re dog likes to swim, there is an off-leash dog park with direct lake access.  This spot is particularly popular the labs and other water dogs.  Many of the luxury condos also have on-site concierge services that include dog-walkers.  The Austonian even provides a synthetic grass playground and potty spot for resident pooches.  Leashed dogs  are also a common sight at the Saturday Farmer’s Market, and the many restaurants and coffee shops with outdoor seating all make downtown Austin one of the best neighborhoods for dog owners.

DOWNTOWN AUSTIN PROPERTIES FOR SALE

2. Another Austin neighborhood to consider, if you have a four-legged friend, is Granada Hills.  This small subdivision in the Oak Hills area of Southwest Austin, boasts quiet, tree-lined streets perfect for dog-walking.  The large 0.75-3 acre lots ensure that there is plenty of room for romping around.  One of the best features of the neighborhood are the many towering live oak trees that shade the yards from the hot Texas sun.  The many deer in the neighborhood also provide an opportunity for Fido to guard the garden, and anyone with dogs knows how much they enjoy protecting their territory.

GRANADA HILLS HOMES FOR SALE

3. The City of Rollingwood isn’t actually an Austin neighborhood, but its proximity to downtown Austin and direct access to Zilker park, put it on the map as one of the best neighborhoods for dog owners.  The city is also in the exemplary rated Eanes school district, and with a population of only 1,500 or so residents, there is a strong sense of community.

ROLLINGWOOD HOMES FOR SALE

The City of Austin has many off-leash dog parks for dog’s and their owners to enjoy: Off Leash Dog Parks

Investing In Austin Real Estate

Investing In Austin Real Estate

Right now is a great time to be investing in Austin Real Estate.  The perfect storm of low interest rates, a balanced market (real estate buyers and sellers equally motivated as evidenced by about 6 months of inventory), and a strong economic outlook for Austin, have created a strong incentive for investors to take a look at Austin.

Opportunities are available for Austin investors who want to rehab and flip for a profit, as well as for investors seeking a longer term strategy with rental real estate.

I believe so strongly in the current market, that our family has invested in a Fannie Mae foreclosure that we intend to rehab.  Depending upon who foreclosed upon the property, there are some rules that you’ll want to be aware of when you invest, but for those willing to jump in, the timing couldn’t be better for Austin real estate ventures.

If you’re interested in a project of your own, give me a call at: 512-228-9111

You can follow the progress of our rehab at: MY AUSTIN FLIP

Luxury Homes In Austin

Luxury Homes In Austin

These homes, priced between $3,000,000-5,000,000 are located in some of the best neighborhoods in Austin.  From the peaceful, established communities of Rollingwood and Westlake Hills, to vibrant downtown condo living, the homes below represent some of the very best homes in neighborhoods that offer unique benefits to the people who live there.  To schedule an appointment to see these homes or discuss your Austin Real Estate needs, call: 512-228-9111

MAP VIEW OF HOMES

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How To Buy A HUD Home In Austin

How To Buy A HUD Home In Austin

Buying a HUD home in Austin can be a smart investment.  The price of entry into home ownership or investing can be low compared to conventional sales.  However, the rules of buying a HUD home are different.  Austin remains a great place to buy a home, and whether you plan to occupy the home or flip it for a profit, you’ll want to make sure that you know the rules.

The rules for buying a HUD home changed as of January 1, 2011.  If you were using Southwest Alliance to find a HUD home, you’ll now miss 2/3 of them because 2 other companies are now managing the properties.

You can find all HUD homes for sale in Austin, (and the rest of the US) on www.HUDHomestore.com You can look all you want, but must use a HUD registered broker to bid (call me, I can help).

BIDDING TIMELINES FOR OWNER-OCCUPIED VS. INVESTORS

  • Insurable properties (determined to have <$5,000 worth of repairs by HUD) investor bids will only be accepted after 30 days.  Owner-occupied buyers can bid immediately.
  • Uninsurable properties (determined to have >$5,000 worth of repairs by HUD) investor bids are accepted after only 5 days.

INSPECTIONS
HUD homes are considered, “As Is,” sales.  Owner occupants are able to terminate the contract and receive their earnest money back if structural defects are discovered within the first 15 days of execution of the contract if they have an FHA loan.  The rules may not protect cash buyers and owner occupants with conventional loans.  Investors are not given this option to terminate and if they decide to terminate the contract after execution, they are subject to the loss of their 1% earnest money deposit.

HUD properties are inspected prior to being listed and the property condition report is available for review.

For more information about buying a HUD home in Austin call me: 512-228-9111

HUD AND OTHER FORECLOSURES IN AUSTIN

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Foreclosures And Austin Energy Audits

Foreclosures And Austin Energy Audits

I was recently out with clients who were looking to invest in a HUD foreclosure and they had a question about the city of Austin’s energy audit requirement.  Short-sale and foreclosed properties are exempted from the requirement.  There are other exceptions to the guidelines and I have included them below.

Exemptions:
Homes meeting any one of the following conditions do not need an audit, as allowable under Austin City Code Chapter 6-7. The home:

  • Is less than 10 years old at the time of sale
  • Has participated in the Austin Energy Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program, or an equivalent Austin Energy program not more than ten years before the time of sale and either received at least three energy efficiency improvements or a total of $500 in rebates through Austin Energy residential energy efficiency programs. These improvements include: increasing attic insulation to R38; installing solar screens, solar film, or low-E windows; adding radiant barriers in the attic; replacing or insulating ducts; reducing air infiltration and sealing ducts; and installing new qualifying HVAC systems.
  • Has received energy-efficiency improvements through the Austin Energy Free Home Improvements program within 10 years before the sale.
    (Austin Energy offers free home-energy improvements only to customers with low-to-moderate incomes.)
  • Is a condominium
  • Is manufactured housing (a mobile home) built on a permanent chassis and designed for use without a permanent foundation.
  • Changes ownership and the transfer of the title occurs under one of the following:
    • Foreclosure sale, trustee’s sale, or deed in lieu of foreclosure
    • Pre-foreclosure sale, in which the seller reached an agreement with the mortgage holder to sell the property for an amount less than the amount owed on the mortgage
    • Threat or exercise of eminent domain
    • Gift from one family member to another family member without consideration
    • Court order or probate proceedings
    • Decree of legal separation or dissolution of marriage or property settlement agreement incidental to such a decree

Homestead Exemption – Travis County

Homestead Exemption – Travis County

If you purchased your home this past year and you live in Travis County (or Hays or Williamson), this is very important information.

You need to file for your Travis County homestead exemption between Jan 1 and April 30 to receive your homestead property tax reduction for your 2010 taxes which are due in 2011. You only have to do this once but failure to do so could cost you quite a bit on this year’s taxes.

When you purchase a home in Travis County, you adopt the current tax exemption status of the previous owner for the remainder of that calendar year. For most of you that included a HOMESTEAD exemption that resulted in your taxes being 20-30% lower. Some of you may have been really lucky adopting the previous owners additional exemptions (over 65, disability or the somewhat rare ag exemption) resulting in even lower taxes. When a property changes hands, the TCAD removes all exemptions Jan 1 of the next year (this only happens once) requiring you to file your own exemptions (which you only have to do once). YOU MUST FILE BETWEEN JAN 1 AND APRIL 30 to receive this exemption for your 2010 taxes (due in Jan 2011). This can be done through the tax appraisal district. See link below for instructions and Q&A.

TRAVIS

WILLIAMSON

HAYS

You may receive mail from 3rd parties offering to do this for you for a small fee. You can do it on your own for free through the tax district. Pay close attention to official looking mail and read carefully.

And, by the way, if the tax district asks you what you paid for your home, you do not have to answer that question. They may send out a nice looking questionnaire … please read this carefully as it is optional. If you paid less for your home than the current tax appraised value, then you should report that so that your tax basis will be lower. If you paid more than the tax appraised value, we do not recommend reporting that information to the taxing authorities as you are not required to do so. That information may very likely eventually catch up with them, but you do not have to facilitate the process.

We pledge to always provide helpful information such as this … we have a no-junk policy. Please keep us in mind if you have friends, family or colleagues who may be in need of our services this year. We promise to treat them well.

Here’s to a healthy, happy and fiscally smart year.

Things To Do In Austin – The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

Things To Do In Austin – The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon, or as we did recently an evening.  The grounds are beautiful and the gardens prove how lovely native plants can be.  We recently bundled up to enjoy the annual Luminations event that benefits the Capital City Food Bank.  The atmosphere was chilly and festive.  Live music played in the open courtyard and hot chocolate and homemade baked goods were offered for sale.

Pass the courtyard, luminarias lined the paths to truly stunning effect.  Frosty the snowman mingled among the revelers at the Wildflower Center, much to the dismay of my four year old.  No pictures with Frost for her!  However, the hot apple cider and cupcakes were a hit.  The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center is a wonderful place to visit, and admission is free in January.  The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center is a jewel in South Austin.  Nearby neighborhoods include, Circle C.  To view a few of the homes for sale in Circle C visit here.


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How Is The Housing Market In Austin?

I get asked variations of the question, “how is the housing market in Austin,” almost daily.  The answer is, “it depends on who’s asking.”  I usually explain that it is a great time for buyers in the market for a house in Austin, and sellers who have owned for more than 5 years and want to move up.  For more recent home buyers who want to sell, the answer is highly dependent upon the neighborhood they bought in, and how much they paid.  For investors looking to build there real estate empire, the timing probably couldn’t be better.  Interest rates are creeping up, but still remain under 5% for conventional loans.

November 2010 Austin Housing Statistics

  • $311,567,894 – Total Dollar volume of single-family properties sold, down 16% from November 2009
  • $184,000 – Median price for single-family homes sold, up 3% from November 2009
  • 1,243 sold, down 20% from November 2009
  • 90 – Days on market, up 17% from November 2009
  • 8,741 – Active single-family home listings on the market, up 2% from November 2009
  • 1,260 – Pending sales for single-family homes, up 2% from November 2009

Year to Date 2010 Statistics for the Austin Housing Market

  • $4,180,249,992 – Total dollar volume of single-family properties sold, down 1% from 2009
  • $194,000 – Median price for single-family homes, up 3% from 2009
  • 16,477 – Single-family homes sold, down 6% from 2009
  • 76 – Days on market, down 4% from 2009
  • 10,337 – Active single family home listings on the market, up 9% from 2009
  • 18,495 – Pending sales for single-family homes, down 6% from 2009

All market statistic data provided by the Austin Board of REALTORS©

If you’re interested in finding out how much your house is worth, give me a call.

To search for a property now, click here.

Zilker Park And Town Lake In Winter

Zilker Park And Town Lake In Winter

I spend more time at Zilker Park and Town Lake at this time of year than any other.  The days are crisp, the skies are blue, and the temperature unpredictable in the way that Austin weather can be.  The great weather draws a crowd, but it never feels crowded.  Runners share the path with cyclists, strollers, and dog-walkers, creating a very friendly environment and a great opportunity for people watching.  Although we consider 45 degree days cold here, the weather changes quickly, and today it was 75 degrees in the afternoon.

Great Austin neighborhoods that surround Zilker Park and Town Lake are Downtown, Barton Hills, Enfield, Tarry Town, West Lynn, and Clarksville.

Downtown Austin – Spring Condominiums

Downtown Austin – Spring Condominiums

Spring Condominiums, 300 Bowie in downtown Austin, are ideally located.  The location of Spring Condos in downtown Austin allows residents the luxury of walking to Town Lake in the morning, strolling over to Whole Foods for grocery shopping, and after the free concierge service delivers the groceries, preparing for the vibrant nightlife and fine dining that downtown Austin is known for.  The building was designed with efficiency and elegance in mind.  The point concept at Spring Condos means that the building is tall and sleek, with a maximum of 8 occupants on floors 6-23, 6 occupants on floors 24-38, and only 4 occupants on floors 39-41 and fantastic views of downtown Austin are afforded from most condos.  This is a radical departure from what typical condominium owners experience, and affords occupants of Spring Condos more privacy, security, and a sense of community on their floors.  Elevator fobs control access to all floors and common areas.

Town Lake is a short few blocks away from Spring Condominiums and views of the lake are stunning, particularly from above the 20th floor.  Parking lots and building tops seem to recede above this level.  Views of the Downtown Austin, Texas Capitol are also available from some units.  The Whole Foods in downtown Austin is 2 short blocks away, and delivery is available at no charge from the grocer.

The 5th floor at Spring Condos combines a small, functional gym, outdoor swimming pool, library, lounge, and conference room.  The conference room is available for reservation free of charge to occupants wishing to host a dinner party or business event.  There is a professional kitchen for catered events.  2 guest rooms are available for guests of residents at Spring Condos.  They are available for $50 and $75/night.  These features allow some flexibility to those wishing to downsize without completely relinquishing the idea of ever hosting a large dinner.

Most of the units have hardwood floors in the main living areas, and carpets in the bedrooms.  Upgraded kitchen appliances are available at an additional cost, and all cooking is done with gas.

The nearby Seaholm power plant always draws queries from visitors to Spring.  Visit the City of Austin‘s link for more information: http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/seaholm/powerplant.htm Plans are for mixed a mixed use space that will include office, retail, and a boutique hotel, special event space, and an outdoor terrace that will overlook Town Lake.

As of this writing, occupancy at Spring is at 67%.  Prices start $219k for a one bedroom, $379k for 2 bedrooms, and $699k for 3 bedrooms.  Finishes are completed in dark and light wood floors and cabinetry, granite counters in various hues, and marble or tile in the bathrooms.  HOA fees are 0.38 cents/s.f.  It is also worth noting that every time I have visited the concierge has been exceptionally friendly and helpful.

Click Here to search for condos downtown, or contact me for more information about the downtown condo market.

Texas Attorney General Temporarily Halts Foreclosures

Half million dollar house in Salinas, Californ...

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From the office of the Texas Attorney General:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Attorney General Abbott Calls for a Halt on Foreclosures While Loan Services Review Their Business Practices Abbott calls for thorough review to determine if “robosigners” were used in foreclosure paperwork processing AUSTIN — The Texas Attorney General’s office has called for a halt on all foreclosures, all sales of properties previously foreclosed upon and all evictions of persons residing in previously foreclosed upon properties, until companies have completed a review of their processes, including whether employees or agents “robosigned” affidavits and other documents which were recorded in the State of Texas. The suspension notices were sent to 30 loan servicers doing business in Texas in an effort to determine the full harm Texas homeowners may have suffered or could suffer as a result of these business practices.

List of Lenders:

http://www.oag.state.tx.us/newspubs/releases/2010/100510_recipient_banks.pdf

Letter to Mortgage Lenders:

http://www.oag.state.tx.us/newspubs/releases/2010/100510_recipient_banks.pdf

Housing Starts Are Up, But Where Is The Recovery?

The US Commerce Department reports that for the month of August housing starts and permits for construction were up 32.2 percent.  Unfortunately, those numbers were for multifamily construction (apartments and condos).  The numbers for single family starts were a much more modest 4.3 percent.

These numbers indicate that builders may still perceive the residential housing market as unstable, and not a good investment.  Tightened lending practices are contributing to the low residential construction numbers.

In Austin, TX  there are currently 321 new homes listed on the MLS ranging in price from $101,755 – $3,995,000.  An additional 290 newly constructed homes went under contract or were sold in the last 90 days.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

One of my neighbors is participating in a great project that encourages the burgeoning locavore movement and benefits members of the community in two ways.  Mobile Loaves and Fishes is a self-described, “mobile outreach ministry.”  One of many programs that they created uses a homeowner’s backyard to grow vegetables.  The vegetable gardens are tended to by members of the ministry who were formerly homeless, and supplies such as soil, irrigation, and fencing materials (we live in deer country) are provided by the homeowner.  The homeowner has access to fresh vegetables, and the leftover produce is sold.  In our neighborhood we get an email when goodies are available, and for $15 I can pick up a bag at an arranged time that includes fresh vegetables, such as tomatoes, basil, okra, black-eyed peas, and peppers.  The bags change with the seasons and everyone benefits.  To find out more contact Mobile Loaves and Fishes at: http://www.mlfnow.org/about-us/

Stop, You’re Embarrassing Me

Stop, You’re Embarrassing Me
Lake Austin portion of the Colorado River, as ...

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Austin makes so many top 10 lists that it almost doen’t seem newsworthy to report that we made a few more, but here goes:

  • CNNMoney.com reported that Austin is ranked third behind Albany, NY and Augusta, GA as one of the most, “recession-proof metro areas.”
  • Kiplinger’s Personal Finance – Austin is number one on their, “10 Best Cities for the next Decade,” list.
  • Forbes.com ranked Austin as second on their list of, “America’s Most Innovative Cities.”
  • Austin was selected as one of the top five, “creative centers,” noting that, “Austin is one of the nation’s most progressive and proactive entrepeneurial centers.”
  • A study in Portfolio.com/bizjournals looking at the overall health of the economy and cost of living, ranked Austin as ninth on a list ranking quality of life.

Austin has a highly educated work force and a growing base of entrepeneurs, startups, and venture capitalists.  Our business friendly environment, encourages people who live here to take the kind of calculated risks that are necessary in any small business or start up venture.  Many companies, such as Facebook, Google, and Apple, have set up shop here as well.

Great music, fantastic food with a strong locavore movement, and many parks and greenbelts throughout the city add to its appeal.  It is no surprise that Austin makes so many lists.

Austin Unemployment Numbers

The release of July’s employment numbers saw great news for Austin. Here are some key data:

Austin is (again) number one in the top 50 Metros for year-over-year job creating.
We have been growing year-over-year jobs since April while the US has lost year-over-year jobs for the last 27 months
In actual numbers of year-over-year jobs, Austin gained18,600.
Texas added 132,500 jobs
The U.S. lost 17,000 jobs
Where did jobs grow? Private service-providing industries had a net gain of 12,400 jobs over the last 12 months and government gained 8,400 jobs.
Because our population continues to boom, Austin also has the paradox of DECREASED unemployment rate (July was 7.2% compared to 7.5% last year) INCREASED UNEMPLOYED PERSONS (67,124 in July of 2010 vs 66,731 in July of 2009) BUT increased number of employed (26,949 or 3.0% in 12 months and persons employed increased by 26,556 or 3.2%)

Granada Hills & Estates – Southwest Austin

Nestled in Southwest Austin, and a convenient 15-20 minutes to downtown is the Granada Hills & Estates Neighborhood. Attractive features of Granada Hills & Estates are large lots (0.75-3 acres), a small community park, pool, tennis courts, and an active voluntary HOA. Seton Hospital SW is less than a mile away on the 1826.

Since Granada Hills is very close to the private Austin Waldorf School, many families with children in the school gravitate to the neighborhood.  Other private nearby private schools include: Cedars Montessori (3yrs – 6th grade), The Greenwood School (2yrs – 5yrs), and St. Andrews Episcopal (upper level campus).

Granada Hills is part of the larger Oak Hill neighborhood in Austin, and was developed in the 1970′s-1980′s. Over time many of these homes have been updated. Prices vary widely depending upon these upgrades, but if you are willing to do some work, you can find a home in Granada Hills starting at $200k and up to $450k for an updated home.

Granada Hills & Estates HOA is very active and includes participation from Granada Oaks (a newer adjacent neighborhood)

School District: AISD
Elementary: Baldwin Elementary School
Middle School: Gorzycki Middle School
High School: Bowie High School