For many first-time home buyers, Austin is the perfect place to settle down. There's plenty of jobs, and the burgeoning tech industry is ensuring that there's more on the way. The cultural vibe is addicting, and people love to get together and hang out in the city's downtown areas. So, for those considering the move to homeownership, why not purchase real estate and make this your home for a while?
It is important for first-time buyers to know ahead of time that they will likely be faced with challenges in the Austin market. It's a competitive market right now, and it can sometimes be difficult to get an offer accepted when you're up against previous homeowners who may have accrued wealth from their previous real estate investment. In addition, demand for housing in Austin has caused prices to rise, which puts many first-time buyers in a position where the down payment can be a barrier to entry.
However, more and more renters are finding they can break into this market when they have a plan. With the right real estate team on your side, and with the right preparation, you're sure to find the perfect starter home in Austin. Here's the top 5 neighborhoods to consider for your home search:
The Austin Culture Map considers Anderson Mill to be one of the best neighborhoods in north Austin for first-time buyers. Situated by some of the great parks and trails in Austin, this neighborhood is a good choice for those who love to get outdoors and enjoy life. Homeowners also enjoy the fact that they are in a desirable, growing area for many home buyers, which...
Unless a seller is fortunate enough to have a professional staff of groundskeepers and maintenance personnel, the aspect of curb appeal is something that most homeowners find themselves dealing with in some capacity when deciding to sell their home. Since buyers often equate curb appeal with actual quality and value, sellers who miss the mark when attempting to improve their home's curb appeal may find themselves experiencing depressed levels of buyer interest, longer market times, and lower purchase offers than a comparable home that buyers view more positively.
If you are preparing your home for sale and want to make sure it is as appealing as possible from the curb, the following information can help cure problem areas and maximize a home's appeal in today's real estate market.
Worried About First Impressions? Make Sure to Start With a Clean Slate
Much like when prepping the interior of a home, the lawns, gardens, flowerbeds, outbuildings, and hardscape areas also need to be clean, neat, and clutter-free in order to be attractive from the curb. Some suggestions to help with this include:
- keeping lawns mowed and trimmed, making sure to remove or mulch excess grass trimmings or leaves to keep the grass looking healthy and green
- feeding and aerating sparse lawns, as well as considering seeding them to help encourage healthy growth
- removing weeds from flowerbeds, window boxes, and planters, and replacing any dead or unhealthy plants to keep these areas looking colorful and lush
- putting away tools, garden hoses, trash cans, toys, and any excess...
The city of Leander has no lack of cultural attractions to suit a variety of tastes. One of those attractions is the Mason Homestead. There are several reasons to visit this historic site — visitors can come for the historic significance, to stay a while and experience a piece of living history, and more. Let’s take an in-depth look at what the Mason Homestead has to offer.
History of the Homestead
The Mason Homestead was once a 300-acre plot owned by Charles C. Mason in the years after the American Civil War. Today, the homestead features 3 1/2 acres and it is a part of the Texas Century Farm registry. Originally built by Charles Mason’s father Alpheus S. Mason in 1866, this beautiful home gives people a look at Civil War era architecture. The home itself features Victorian styling with a double-galleried porch reminiscent of the colonial style.
Charles Mason himself was very active among the communities of Leander and Bagdad. Not only was he a church leader and businessman, but he was active in politics and in the Masonic order. No doubt the Mason Homestead served as a vital meeting place and community hub, much as it does today.
What to Do at the Homestead
This homestead features a variety of amenities including 1,260 square feet of interior space that can accommodate up to 49 people. There is also a kitchen for serving, though visitors are not able to cook. Two living rooms serve as entertaining space and a surround sound audio system lets hosts play music or other audio as needed for their event.
In addition to this, visitors will have a chance to see much of ...
Can you feel the heat in Austin? No, we're not talking about the stifling temperatures throughout the summer months. We're talking about the record-setting housing market that continues to show gains in just about every section of the city. Home buyers are facing competition at every corner, and sellers are enjoying significant returns as they look to upgrade to more luxurious properties in and around Austin. This hot market doesn't show any signs of slowing down, but there are several trends identified by the Community Impact Newspaper taking shape that may impact your home search in the city.
1. In the last 5 years, new home construction in the city has more than doubled.
The Austin Board of Realtors reported that just 167 homes were built in the central part of the city in 2011 — but by 2016, more than 550 homes were being built each year. By May of 2017, 255 homes had already been constructed, with plenty more in development for the rest of the calendar year.
New development is great news for potential home buyers, who are faced with a competitive market. Having the option to build or purchase a new construction home allows buyers to avoid the bidding wars that are taking place over existing homes and also gives them an opportunity to create the house that they want. City officials are encouraging this new construction as well. In April, the city council adopted a Strategic Housing Blueprint that calls for the creation of more than 135,000 housing units in the next decade. Outside of the city, areas like the Leander real estate...
Homeownership comes with a major responsibility: home maintenance. While renters can assume landlords will shoulder most of the burden, homeowners need to be willing and able to make the repairs themselves or pay for the work to be done by a licensed professional. The thing is, it costs money to maintain a home and even more when you want to hire someone else to do the repairs for you. Homeowners wanting to handle small maintenance issues and repairs themselves can save a significant amount of money. What tools do homeowners need to get started?
The typical homeowner can benefit from having and learning to use the following tools to maintain their home. Save money and tackle common home repairs with these common tools.
A Tape Measure
Make sure that you can properly size anything in or around the home. Do you want to get to Home Depot or Lowe’s and then realize later that what you ordered simply will not fit in a space? We thought not. The most useful tape measure is a 25-footer with a blade one inch in length. This inch prevents buckling and 25 feet can let you measure just about anything you may need.
During a power outage or camping trip, a flashlight comes in handy. An LED flashlight offers a powerful light source when investigating electrical issues or an unfamiliar noise. Keep one handy, as well as stock up on a few candles and matches, in preparation for any such issues.
A Utility Knife
This is an all-purpose tool to keep in your DIY kit. Use it to cut drywall, mark wood, cut away carpet edges, scrape away resin or paint and open packages. This is an inexpensive tool available as a blade that retracts...
One of the things that makes Cedar Park a great place to live is the local business. In the restaurant sector, residents enjoy a wide variety of different flavors — cuisines of all kinds, traditional foods and there is even a lively fusion scene, bringing the best in modern eats to town. Let’s take a look at some of the most talked about restaurants in the area.
1. Blue Corn Harvest Bar & Grill
This is a restaurant where you will find local Southwestern cuisine at a great price. Featuring a patio, famous margaritas, a full-service bar and a private room, diners will always find something new to enjoy. Additionally, those that are interested in supporting local businesses will enjoy the fact that Blue Corn Harvest works hard to stock their kitchen and bar with local treats from Texas brew houses, wineries and farms.
Lovers of authentic Italian food will definitely want a table at Gino’s. This restaurant is run by Gino Minardi, originally from Gela, Italy. Since 1993, Gino’s has been a Cedar Park fixture, one that offers everything from pizza and pasta to seafood and fine wines.
3. Local Slice Pizza
Everyone needs a favorite local pizza joint and for people in Cedar Park, Local Slice Pizza is that joint. Local slice specializes in salads produced from organic ingredients as well as thin crust and New York style pizzas. There are two locations within Cedar Park, one on Cypress Creek Road and the other on North Vista Ridge Boulevard. The North Vista Ridge location also features a Ju Ju’s, which serves ice cream, sodas and other desserts....
Everywhere you turn, somebody is talking about the Millennials, and it seems like most people doing the talking have a slightly sarcastic or condescending tone. They aren't really the group they're made out to be – times change, and generations adapt to the circumstances they are born into. Now, as they are climbing the ladder and planning for their future, they are facing additional challenges that can be difficult to overcome in certain parts of the country, such as achieving homeownership.
In Austin, many Millennials are having a hard time becoming homeowners due to the strength of the market. This is quite significant, as Millennials make up about 36 percent of the population in Austin, according to the Community Impact Newspaper.
Challenges in the Austin Housing Market
Austin is a growing city, which has increased both the price and the competition for real estate. As home prices have gone up, many Millennials are left in a position where there are few or no available homes in their price range. About 30 percent of the Millennials living in Austin have an annual salary of about $50,000, but many are also saddled with student loan debt that averages about $16,000. In most cases, they don't have the buying power of other older generations quite yet.
Their financing options are sometimes limited because of debt. Not only are many Millennials managing their student loan debt, but they may also need to finance large purchases like cars. An individual's debt-to-income ratio is analyzed before they are approved for a home loan, and because of this, some Millennials don't qualify.
Tips for Millennial...
Looking for ways to enjoy the outdoors in Cedar Park and Leander? Both of these cities offer numerous opportunities. Here is a quick list of some of the finest outdoor adventures that area residents will enjoy.
1. Lake Travis Zipline Adventure
For thrill seekers, the Lake Travis Zipline Adventure is certainly worth a look. This complex boasts the longest zipline in Texas with tours that last for three hours, swinging adventurers out over Lake Travis itself. With five different ziplines to try, once people get a taste of the high-flying action, they will doubtless return for another weekend of fun.
2. Brushy Creek Trail in Leander
Homeowners in Leander that enjoy a quieter experience will love the Brushy Creek Trail. This is a paved trail that winds its way along Brushy Creek, through Leander itself. Walking, hiking and biking are all encouraged and visitors will find restrooms, parks and other facilities along the way. Pack a picnic and plan to spend a day exploring the sights this trail has to offer.
3. Williamson County Southwest Regional Park
This park has something to offer just about everyone. Sports enthusiasts will find a football field, a track, disc golf, softball fields, several tennis courts, soccer fields and basketball courts — along with a playscape for younger children. There is also hiking available, a miniature train for those that would like to sit back and watch and a splashpad to cool off on hot summer days. With close to 800 acres, area residents can spend a large share of their weekends at the Williamson County Southwest Regional Park and still not discover all of the fun to be had!
4. Elizabeth Milburn Community Park
Like many parks, the Elizabeth...
There's a lot of benefits to living within the city limits of Austin. The growing population consists of many residents who have called Austin home for many years. The economy is strong and the jobs are plentiful, particularly in the tech sector, which is enjoying a notable expansion in the community. Large, luxurious homes are scattered throughout charming neighborhoods, each with their own authentic flavor and atmosphere.
In short, it's great to be living in Austin, but for many buyers, avoiding the higher prices of real estate in the city is a priority. Month after month, prices continue to rise and despite increasing inventory levels, many homes are still hard to catch. This is leaving an increasing number of buyers looking toward the suburbs – and they're liking what they see.
According to the Austin Culture Map, the suburbs are bursting at the seams, and seem to be endlessly growing as Austin becomes the strong epicenter of this part of Texas. However, the housing prices are still significantly more affordable than they are within the city limits. For buyers, this gives them the opportunity to get the same size home with all of the modern amenities, without paying the Austin price. They are still located within commutable distance from the city, and they get to discover the nuances of their own new hometown.
Buyers who are looking to the outlying suburbs should consider these facts and statistics about the various communities that surround Austin:
Located north of Austin, Georgetown is a quaint suburb of about 50,000 residents. Its historic atmosphere appeals to those who want to enjoy a quieter pace without leaving behind all of the big city amenities that Austin...
Purchasing a home is a unique consumer experience. It’s not the same as purchasing just about any other product since you’re not able to “return it” like you would with, say, a smartphone. Because of the legal and financial process involved with transferring property, contingencies are imperative for both buyers and sellers alike.
Contingencies are contractual obligations the seller and buyer must fulfil prior to the close of escrow. Essentially, contingencies are a way “out” should one or more of them not be met by either party. They also serve as a form of consumer protection in the event the home inspection produces a report of any major issues.
So, what are the Different Types of Contingencies?
While not an exhaustive list, there are several common contingencies that are often included in the buyer-seller contract:
A frequent contingency, the home inspection requirement generally provides the buyer with at least one home inspection prior to and as a parameter for closing escrow. Based on negotiations with the seller, the buyer may request to have their own experts conduct the inspection.
This may be included as a part of the lenders requirement for loan approval. However, even if the purchase is a cash transaction, many buyers – particularly investors – seek to understand the differential between the appraisal and sales price.
Lenders will almost always research the property, including performing their own appraisal, prior to approving a buyer’s loan. Also, if for some other reason the loan does not go through, then the language of...
There are lots of great ways to spend the afternoon in the Cedar Park real estate market. The Austin Steam Train, operated by the Austin Steam Train Association, comes highly recommended. The Association’s goal is to preserve the history of steam engines and railroad technology from the steam era. In accomplishing this task, they’ve pressed trains in operation, allowing visitors to stop by and take a ride through history on any day of the week.
The Austin Steam Train Association: History and Facts
The ASTA’s train crews are fully staffed by trained volunteers who have a passion for railroad history. The Hill Country Flyer, which was the first historic train run by the ASTA, made its first journey on July 25, 1992, running between Cedar Park and Burnet.
A year later, a 16-acre rail yard within Cedar Park was created. Over the next seven years, the Hill Country Flyer traveled 60,000 miles between Cedar Park and surrounding areas. Today, that engine still runs between the Cedar Park Depot, the Bertram Depot and the Burnet Depot.
How to Get Involved
There are a few different ways to participate in the action with the Austin Steam Train Association. First, train rides are held most days of the week, year-round, which means residents and visitors to the area can always book a train ride. The ASTA also offers listings of hotels, fine restaurants and shopping opportunities at each of its depots, which means patrons can plan a day trip or even an overnighter around their train ride.
Currently, the Depot at Cedar Park is renovating a train car, turning it into a concession stand. In the near future, the new concession stand will open, giving visitors a convenient place to grab a bite to eat before setting off.
Locomotive enthusiasts can also apply...
Real estate has long been heralded as one of the best investments to make, and it's one of the largest financial assets that many people have. Home sellers in Austin don't just want to sell – they want to sell high. The goal of most real estate transactions is to earn the most significant return possible while also securing a new home that fits your needs and desires.
The current market conditions in Austin are pretty much ideal for sellers. The average listing price is around $588,000, and home values have risen steadily over the last several months. Inventory is not as low as it is in other parts of the country, but there's an influx of buyers heading to the city for the powerful, high-paying tech jobs that are available. This means that move-in ready property is in high demand, and these buyers are willing to pay more to get what they want. And this isn't just for properties within the city – real estate markets such as Georgetown are feeling the effects as well.
So what's the best way to cash in on this hot real estate market? Well, how you prepare your home for the market makes a big difference. Here's a few tips to help you get top-dollar for your Austin property.
Update Rather than Renovate
It's true what they say, kitchens and bathrooms are the most valuable rooms in your house. However, if you haven't done a big renovation in the last few years, you may not feel up to the challenge right before listing. Don't worry, you can still refresh these important rooms to improve your value without breaking the bank. Replace old light fixtures with new ones that align with current...
There is a mixture of excitement and a bit of anxiety when purchasing a home. Paperwork, loan qualifications, purchase offers, and the escrow process all need to be navigated with a keen eye for detail. Add to this the maintenance and repair responsibilities that home ownership requires, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
With this in mind, the importance of a home inspection prior to purchase cannot be overstated. A thorough examination of a home’s condition can make or break a home sale and is a primary contingency for many mortgage lenders – issues such as a poor foundation or damaged roof can seriously alter the course of the deal when uncovered. Real estate agents and brokers often have specific home inspectors they’ve successfully worked with in the past. However, it’s important for both the buyer and seller to understand how home inspectors are regulated in the specific U.S. state where the property is located.
Research Your State's Rules
Each state has individual requirements for the training and certification for home inspectors. Some states, such as California, do not require a home inspector to be licensed. This does not mean, however, that home inspectors are free from regulation. In fact, the California Trade Practices Act (Chapter 338) expressly regulates home inspection activities. Furthermore, the California Contractors State License Board has oversight regarding home inspectors.
In contrast, home inspectors in states such as Nevada are required to be licensed through the Real Estate Division of the Department of Business & Industry. To earn a license, potential Nevada home inspectors must have:
- 40 hours of education
- 25 hours of inspections observed by a certified...
At the Texas Museum of Science and Technology, there is something for everyone of all ages to experience. This museum is located right in Cedar Park on Toro Grande Boulevard and it is open each day of the week, though hours vary depending on the day. Here, Cedar Park residents will find a wide variety of programs to attend as well as several permanent exhibits and a few temporary exhibits depending on the collections that the Museum has on loan. Here are some of the programs and exhibits that are always available!
Go on the Timewalk at the Museum
One of the most popular exhibitions is the Timewalk exhibit, a tour through ancient history that people of all ages, from youngsters to adults, will find interesting. The Museum has a large collection of fossils, including a T-Rex skull, a full saber-toothed tiger skeleton and various other prehistoric animals. This exhibit features four billion years’ worth of history, ranging between ancient Precambrian fossils to more modern items from the Holocene period.
Visit the Planetarium
The Museum’s Planetarium features shows every day of the week, though it is best to check the website or call ahead for times. Two live shows can be watched, the Planets Live show and the Sky Tonight show, as well as four films that are rendered on a 360-degree overhead screen.
Get Involved in One of Many Programs
There are several different programs available at the Museum, all geared to a variety of age ranges. Children under five will enjoy Wee-Searchers, which is an ongoing program that features weekly sessions focusing on a new science or technology themed topic each week....
Known for its seismic proportions, it's hard to imagine that Texas could get any bigger. But growth is evident across the state, from its thriving local economies to its influx of out-of-state residents looking to relocate to the Lone Star State. Homes are barely listed on the real estate market before they are snatched up by anxious buyers looking to get their hands on the hot property in Austin and other metropolitan areas in Texas.
While it's not surprising that home sales are on the rise, many industry insiders are surprised that Austin and the surrounding region are in the lead with the number of land sales that have taken place in the last year. It appears that buyers are starting to push the city limits and expand outward, purchasing rural land when possible in order to build their dream property in an ideal location.
What to Know About Land Sales in Austin
- Recent data from the Texas Small Land Sales Report showed that the most land purchases were made in Austin, Waco and Hill Country. There was more than 2,400 land sales in this region during 2016 alone, which is an increase of about 21 percent from the previous year.
- Those land sales comprised about 35 percent of all land that was purchased in the state of Texas during 2016 — and the amount of land totaled more than 55,000 acres.
- Throughout much of Texas, the cost of land has held steady, but the demand in Austin has caused land prices to rise throughout the last year. The average price per acre in Austin and the surrounding area was about $8,600, while the average price per acre across the state was $5,600.
What's Driving Land Sales in Central Texas?
Farming has always been big business in Texas, so the majority...
Leander is known for its wonderful park system along with lots of great opportunities for recreation. One of those opportunities is the Crystal Falls Golf Club, a facility that is owned and operated by the city of Leander. This beautifully manicured property has a lot to offer area residents — not just golfing, but other activities as well. Read on to see why this is one of Leander’s top attractions!
18 Holes at Crystal Falls
The Crystal Falls Golf Course has been billed as one of the most scenic courses in Central Texas, certainly as the most beautiful of all public golf courses. There are 18 holes divided into a front nine and back nine complete with water features and all of the landscaping you would expect, beautifully groomed to provide an enjoyable experience.
Players can book a tee time online and there are also several events for children and adults. First among these is the Hill Country Championship, which was voted the Tournament of the Year in 2010 by the Austin Amateur Golf Association. Other events include the Beltway Junior Golf Tour, which is open for children and young adults ages six to 18 and golf camps, which are held for children and teenagers of varying ages throughout the summer.
What Else Will Visitors Find at Crystal Falls?
In addition to the course itself, there is also a driving range for golfers to practice their swings. This golf club also features a Pro Shop where golfers can buy everything from clubs to clothing. Members of the club receive a discount at this shop.
Finally, there is a bar and grille that serves up breakfast and lunch each day. It is recommended that golfers...
Austin is poised to have a record-breaking year for real estate. The city is experiencing a population boom with no end in sight, driven largely by the technology sector that continues to bring more jobs to the region. The economy is strong, anchored by a diverse range of industries and job opportunities. And many of the residents are ready to purchase homes that appeal to their tastes.
While many of the real estate headlines are focusing on the residential housing market in Austin, it should also be noted that the commercial real estate market is thriving. In fact, according to an article published in The Business Journals, Austin has one of the top 5 commercial real estate markets in the country.
What's Driving the Commercial Real Estate Market in Austin?
Austin is one of two cities in Texas that topped the list for the 5 hottest commercial real estate markets. While commercial real estate in Houston is booming because its retail market continues to thrive despite the fact that the oil industry is lagging, Austin commercial real estate is in demand for different reasons.
The city has transformed into a southern technology hub, where tech start-ups are relocating from around the country and bringing along with them residents who like to spend their earnings. High employment rates coupled with a population boom have increased the demand for new retail developments. As new people move to Austin, developers are looking to launch restaurants, shopping centers and entertainment complexes to meet the needs of these fresh city dwellers.
Similarities Amongst the Top Commercial Markets in the Country
There's some similarities to note amongst all five of the cities that are enjoying a booming commercial real estate market. For starters, all five of the cities are located in the southern portion of the United States. Houston and...
The Austin real estate market has been steadily growing for some time, but in May 2017 the market escalated past a huge threshold — a $1.2 billion threshold, to be exact. The Austin Board of Realtors released its monthly report regarding May 2017 home sales, which revealed that the market topped $1.2 billion in sales in just one month for the first time.
This figure is generating buzz amongst those involved in the real estate market, particularly investors and agents who work with property owners to help them get the most out of their real estate investment.
What Does This Mean for Home Sellers?
Home sellers should be overjoyed at this recent data, which proves that real estate will continue to be in high demand and that home prices will continue to skyrocket. For property owners who are looking to generate a significant return on their real estate investment, now is the right time to list in Austin. Homes are selling quickly, and buyers are willing to overlook certain features in order to get into a home in the city.
However, home sellers should remain aware of the fact that much of the demand in the city is related to low inventory levels. The report released from the Austin Board of Realtors noted that inventory is on the rise, which is leveling out the playing field between buyers and sellers. Homeowners who are planning to list their property will have competition as more homes are placed on the market. It's important to work with a qualified real estate agent who can make sure your Austin home looks its best to eager buyers.
What Does This Mean for Home Buyers?
It might be easy for a home buyer to be intimidated by these facts and figures, which continue to showcase the increasing value — and prices — of homes for...
Interest rates are a fundamental consideration when buying a home - particularly when a buyer is financing through a traditional mortgage lender (as opposed to the seller carrying the note).
In short, interest rates will, ultimately, affect the price of the home as they are an added cost for obtaining a mortgage. Therefore, understanding several aspects of economics – as tied to interest rates – can save a buyer thousands of dollars (if not more).
To better understand how interest rates may apply to your specific situation, speak with your lender and/or financial advisor.
Interest rate basics
Quite simply, interest rates are a specific amount a lender charges to borrow an asset. In the case of home buying, that asset is borrowing money to purchase a piece of property over a fixed period. Essentially, consumers are paying for the privilege to use an asset they do not own. Meanwhile, lenders are generating income from an asset they do not have access to as it is being used by the borrower.
Interest rates come in two varieties: short term and long term rates. A mortgage or a car loan are prime examples of long-term interest rates since the length of the loan spans many years. Credit cards are an example of a short-term interest rate as they are constructed to be paid off very quickly – within a year or less.
There are three main factors that influence interest rates on a national level.
- The Federal Reserve (also known as “the Fed”) has the power to raise or lower interest rates. They do so by using what are called predictive models which are based on extensive mathematical calculations. Arguably, the “Fed” has a powerful and direct affect on short term interest...
For people that are looking at reasons to purchase Leander real estate, there are many. One of this city’s greatest assets are its parks. There are four in Leander, the Benbook Ranch Park, Devine Lake Park, Mason Creek Park and Robin Bledsoe Park. Let’s take a look at each and what they have to offer to this great community!
1. Benbook Ranch Park
The newest park in Leander is the Benbook Ranch Park, which was opened in 2008. This park offers several recreational opportunities on the 46.5-acre complex. Residents will find soccer fields and a softball field as well as multiple trails for hiking, biking and more. There is also a playscape, skate park, a pavilion that is available for rent, grills and other necessities. Chief among the amenities here is the disc golf course, a large 18-hole course that is always open for residents to enjoy. In fact, maps and scorecards are available both online at the Leander Parks website and onsite.
2. Devine Lake Park
The Devine Lake Park offers something a little bit different. This park features 45.5 acres, part of which is a reservoir that is open to fishing, wildlife watching and boating with non-motorized watercraft. In addition to the lake, visitors will also find amenities like a grill, hiking trails, play area, picnic area and a pavilion.
3. Mason Creek Park
This is one of the smaller parks in Leander, making it the perfect afternoon getaway. Mason Creek park is tucked away in the heart of Leander, offering a trail for walking and a playground for children. Pack a lunch when visiting, because this park also features...