RRR Austin

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Teravista Update!! Movieplex coming soon!!

I wrote an article yesterday on the Teravista area of Round Rock and how I think it's going to be a continued hot neighborhood because of all the growth. I don't know how I didn't know about this but Cinemark is about to open a 14 Screen Movie Theatre right next door!!

So this is another bit of fuel that will keep the fire burning. I'll review:

  • Golf Course Neighborhood with great range of homes and solid builders surrounded by
  • Outlet Malls
  • Hospitals
  • Higher Education Center
  • Austin's only IKEA
  • Great Elementary Schools
  • Has an I35 Exit named after the subdivision
  • Close to Triple A baseball field
  • Close to Water Park
  • Close to HEB Plus (A fantastic grocery store)
  • Not far from lakes
  • Plenty of land left to develop
  • And now a MOVIE THEATRE!!!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Austin's New Home Building Continues to grow

According to a recent report from a market research firm, Residential Strategies Inc, the Austin Area had 17,000 new starts within the past 12 months.

A qoute in the Austin Business Journal confims some of my previous blogs on Austin's Appreciation.

"While Austin builders are concerned about the housing slow-down reported in other parts of the country, the fact is that, for now, Austin is still a healthy market," says Mark Sprague, partner in the Austin office of Residential Strategies. "Austin did not experience the massive run-ups in house prices three years ago that affected so many markets. As a result, Austin's relative affordability and stability have served it well during the past few months."

There are specific pockets of positive new home growth that particularly interest me for growth potential, such as Teravista in Round Rock, Cimmaron Hills in Georgetown, Covered Bridge in South Austin, & Silverado Ranch in Cedar Park.

Teravista, I think, is one of the better investments in Austin outskirts if someone is looking to move into the house and live there for 4 -5 years at least mainly because of it's soon to be hotspot of growth and great golf course. I have more details on my blog about Teravista. Round Rock, year to date, has appreciated 6%.

Cimmaron Hills is located in a fast growing community of Georgetown. A new shopping area is right down the road and Lake Georgetown isn't too far either. It's a quiet community not far from anything. Georgetown's Appreciation year to date is 8%.

Covered Bridge is hilly neighborhood located in a South Austin area known as Oak Hill. It is literally on the verge of the hill country as it's one of the first neighborhoods in the "hills"! Great Home builders like Wilshire and Highland are popping up homes throughout this community. The views are spectacular the location is not far from shopping or downtown and 45 minutes to San Antonio. Lots are placed well from each other providing a little more room than some comparative neighborhoods. This area of Austin has appreciated 18% year to date.

Finally, Silverado Ranch in Cedar Park you can buy a lot of home, with nice upgrades for a lot less money than other areas of Austin. Standard Cedar Garage Doors are just an example. They have two sections, one with regular sized lots and the other has oversized lots. Once again, this area of town is beginning to explode. It's just minutes away from the Cedar Park Town Center where HUGE developments are under way, such as a 12 screen cinemaplex, Threadgills restaurant and great retail buildings. Although, Cedar Park year to date has had one of the lower appreciation rates at 5% than the rest of the Austin Area, this area is sure to grow leaps and bounds once 183A, a second highway into the area, is completed sometime next year.

There are plenty of other new home building areas, but these are just a few that have caught my eye.

North Round Rock on Verge of EXPLODING...in my opinion

I often have prospects ask me my opinion about one neighborhood vs another. More & more I'm being asked, "What do you think about Teravista vs "Any Other"." Which would be a better investment if I were to move there?

Whenever the question has been brought to me for the past few years, I've said, "Teravista". My reasons were simple. The housing prices were just like everywhere else in the area and actually slightly cheaper even though it has what once was rated the #1 public golf course in the area. Many of the reasons I used to tell people that they should buy in Teravista is because I saw future appreciation because of developments planned for the surrounding area.

Most of those developments are either now completed or under way! In the spring most of the home builders noticed the same thing I had been telling my prospects and clients so they raised their prices considerably over a 4 month period.

Some of the developments I am referring to are:

On top of these other growth opportunities to this area, the fact that Teravista is already becoming a popular neighborhood in itself shows signs for growth. The neighborhood is actractive because of the diverse housing opportunities. Housing can be available from the mid 100s to the upper 300s. There is a community INTRANET in which neighborhood members can post items for sale, neighborhood parties or other events.

Because part of this community backs to Greenbelt, there are some hiking and biking trails available. There is a community center that may be used for different events. The golf club house has a cafe. There are plans for "multi-family" housing units on the back end of the property and the overall residential plots sold are only about 1/3 of what's available, leaving plenty of growth and housing options for the future. Additional information is available on the Teravista website pertaining to their amenities.

Teravista is located right off of Hwy 1431 which is a straight shot to the North end of Lake Travis. Yet it's also located only 15 minutes from Lake Georgeotown to the North, both of which are very good for fishing & boating.

Teravista is located in Round Rock, which has seen tremendous growth over the last 15 years primarily due to DELL's headquarters being started in the city, but has continued it's growth even after jobs went flat at DELL a few years ago. DELL just announced that they plan on hiring 500 engineers, many of which will surely want to move closer to the headquarters...looks like they'll have to compete with retail workers at the Outlets, medical personell at Scott & White or Seton & Educators or Students attending the Higher Education Center!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

More Food for Sellers Market in Austin!!

Coldwell Banker's 2006 home price comparison index showed that the avg price of a 2200 sqft home is $220,000. A suburb town 45 min from the Greater Austin Area, Killeen, is rated as the 2nd most affordable area in TX with housing avg of $140,310.

Dallas, was reported as the most expensive area with housing avg of $288,278.

Helen Edwards, president and chief operating officer of Coldwell Banker United, Realtors' Austin region confirms what I and other agents have been saying all along when she reported to the Austin Business Journal that, "We're still seeing a robust seller's market in Austin, as home prices continue to appreciate...As interest rates remain unsteady, combined with low inventory of properties on the market, homeowners will undoubtedly continue to see improvement on their housing investment."

In my most recent market report, it showed that NO area in Austin has depreciated Year to Date and we've continually had less homes listed compared to the same time last year, BUT more homes sold compared to the same time last year.

The number one principle of economics (and probably the only one I know) of supply and demand shows that when the supply is low, as it is in Austin, and the demand is high, as it is in Austin, prices go UUUUPPP!

Exciting Housing Opportunity for NORTH AUSTIN!!!!

A group of investors bought an apartment complex in North Austin with the purpose of renovating them into Townhomes, which was the property's original purpose. Today, the property owner has completed the conversion of the 76-unit Willowbrook North Townhomes in North Austin.

All of the units were completed gutted and outfitted with features such as slab granite countertops, ceramic tile and brushed-nickel fixtures. The reopened community includes a security gate and a security guard in the evenings.

The units will be 2 bedroom units ranging from 985 square feet to 1,100 square feet priced between $135,000 to $160,000.

The HOA fees are not determined yet, but currently there isn't a lot of housing available for under $185,000 in that area, so this may provide some special alternatives for those wanting to move into the area.

From my experience that has been an increased surge of investors interested in purchasing apartments to convert into condos/townhomes. This kind of trend may be due to the need for housing ownership and the opportunity available because older apartment buildings are becoming more and more vacant due to the many newer apartment buildings throughout the area.

Hotel/Condo options are also springing up in the Austin Area as another alternative to housing. Condo/Townhome housing continues to grow as the "busy bodies" prefer paying Association Fees to paying to keep up with landscape and other things that a house entails.

Pangaea Systems Inc. is picking Austin for its new headquarters.

According to the Austin Business Journal, Pangaea Systems Inc. will be relocating its headquarters to Austin. Pangaea is a software company specializing in Radio Frequency detection software.

This just supports the continued efforts and attraction of jobs to Austin. While the Economy throughout the country continues to decline pertaining to real estate, Austin continues to rise and with developments like Pangaea moving to Austin, amongst others.

Austin's Asian American Cultural Center was just recently completed. The encouragement of diverse cultures is an effort to stimulate business in the economy from diverse owners.

Also pertaining to Austin' Growth, is the fact that TEXAS is ranked 3rd in the country for insourcing foreign jobs. Approximately 340K jobs are due to foreign companies such as Toyota & Miller Co.

New Age creates NEW ways to Sell Real Estate

Real Estate Selling used to be very much organized and run by Gov'ts. Through the ages, individuals were given land rights and due to various reasons they needed to sell their land. Real Estate Agents entered into the picture not too long after that, but didn't represent anyone. They were "middlemen". They tried to connect a buyer and seller then go paid for it. Due to way too many seller's being scammed of their money, regulation set in for "Real Estate Salespeople" which eventually involved agency representation.

Enter today's Age: Real Estate Agency in North America is pretty much a no-brainer. Sure there has been a small niche that has tried to do a "For Sale By Owner", however time has told that a house sells quite a bit higher if sold by an agent, more than enough to make up the commissions paid.

Then a few years ago we entered into the information age and real estate has been feeling out the internet ever since. More information is available to the "client" consumer than EVER BEFORE! Yet this doesn't necessarily SWAY to mean "ADVANTAGE SELLER", rather it may actually BALANCE the PLAYING FIELD a little more. Now buyers can have just as much information as the sellers do about real estate. Because of the "Balance" there is still a great need to have "representation" in today's market. There is soo much regulation and hair trigger attorneys yet fraud is still prevalent. Having a "Professional" on your side whether the buyer or seller is very necessary.

YET in today's market there are also MORE diverse ways to sell a home than ever before! In each of these scenarios an Agent's responsibility is to look to the best interests of their clients. Each client's needs may be different and though and now there are options.

In each of these scenarios there are different agencies that add value that is not included here:

1. Conventional Selling - This is your typical 6-8% broker. They spend money to advertise the home, either directed to buyers or other agents. Usually half of this commission goes to an agent representing the buyer, IF a buyer's agent is involved in the process. These agents will be fully involved with negotiations, handling contracts, inspections, & closing the house.

2. Flexible Selling - This is the same as the Conventional broker, except the commission charged is lowered a little if there is NO buyer's agent involved.

3. Discount Brokerage - This one charges a very low percentage commission, like 1% (4% if a buyer's agent is involved). There are two MAIN ways these work for the seller. One will merely list the property on the MLS and the subsequent websites that come with their MLS agreement and others will spend more money to do additional advertising including flyers at a house, Open Houses, and some inexpensive newspaper advertising.

4. Flat Fee Selling - This one charges either a very low fee (usually under $1000) to merely list the property in the MLS to get the exposure, but will not assist with negotiations or contracts. The other will charge a higher flat rate but will perform most or all of the services that a Conventional Broker would do. The flat rate may vary based on the price of the home & in both situations there are companies that charge the fee up front and others that'll charge after a sale of a property.

5. Real Estate Auctions - Traditionally known for the preferred method of selling a foreclosed home, this method is slowly gaining mainstream appeal as well. In most cases this option is run just like any other auction. There is an auction fee that must be paid up front, which is used to pay for advertising. This comes from the seller, then the property is sold at auction within a couple of months. 10% commission is charged to a buyer on top of the sales price, which the buyer KNOWS ahead of time and will adjust their bid price accordingly.

6. Online Auctions - These are run similar to #5, there is a fee usually charged up front, but a much smaller commission, if any when the property sells. Ebay now has a real estate section and there are other sites such as PROPERTYROOM. The seller usually doesn't spend any money on a direct property rather than the website.

7. FSBO - This is still a viable option for those with time and money especially with the advent of online avenues such as Craigslist.

The Conventional/Traditional Way of Selling a Property has been to leave the advertising costs in the hands of a Selling Agent. If the property doesn't sell, then the agent is out the money, but if it does, they'll recoup the advertising costs through a commission payout. For sellers with money available to spend on advertising, they have the other alternatives of Auctions - where the agent for the auction company will spend advertising dollars using their professional expertise, & Some Discount or Flat Fee Brokers where the seller may benefit from MLS exposure, but handle all other advertising on their own, or FSBO where it's all on them!

**I do not profess to be an "EXPERT" on how each of these formats are run, and these are just some of the basic ways most of these are run from my personal experience.***

If you have additional input, it would be very welcome!

Balancing our Days (non real estate related)

I wake up most mornings with my mind racing, even if my physical body is in a coma!

Let's see what am I doing today? Let's look at my tasks on my Treo 650...hmmm? 40 items dated for today, 15 leftoever from yesterday that weren't accomplished.

Let's see...let me prioritize these...make the kids lunches for school, mow the lawn, answer emails, fix the leaky faucet (this one has been carrying daily for 2 months), show properties, send out mailers, walk the dog, attend MCE class, take wifey out to dinner, go to kids soccer game, Eat at least once today, blog, call past clients, exercise for 30 min, call current clients, on and on.

There just isn't enough hours in the day!

For me I try to provide a balance between the four catagories in this order:


2.Church / Service

3.Work / Education

4.Play / Personal Development

I have to put play on the list otherwise it either won't get done, OR it will be all I do!

It's funny how "Work" is on the bottom half of the list but it's what takes up most of my time. Admittedly I sometimes excuse myself by saying, the more I work, the more I'll have time to do the others down the road. Yet, there should be a balance in our lives to provide a more enriching life.

Many new or aspiring agents don't realize that being a REALTOR means working for yourself and self employed people typically don't work a 40 hour week. There is no "union" or regulatory organization that says if you do work more that you'll be given a "bonus" or "overtime pay".

I don't think it's necessarily a "luxury" to use technology as much as in many cases I think of it as a "necessity". Some of the tools we have at our hands allows us to have more time for the other things in life. Utilizing "people" is also a good tool to provide balance.

Here are some thoughts on reasons for the balance of each topic:

1. Family - It was once said, "That no success can compensate for FAILURE in the HOME." (Married or NOT)

2. Church / Service - Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. We've heard over and over from successful people of the world how they feel that they received "back" as much and more than what they "gave".

3. Work / Education - I once heard, "Idle time is the devil's time." How many bad things occur in this world because someone had too much time on their hands? Most of the mischeif at least in this country is NOT caused by the lazy, it's caused by the energetic with nothing else to do! The old New Testament scripture often used in movies states, "And the truth shall set you FREE". Continued education allows our minds to be enlightened which actually makes us feel better.

4. Play / Personal Development - The old proverb of "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man/woman healthy, wealthy & wise" applies here, as well as the numerous studies of the positive effects that regular exercise has with our "state of mind". Relaxation is positive, but in excess can be destructive.