I appreciate your visit to my website. As an Austin Realtor, I hope to utilize this website as a tool to educate and inform customers and clients of the Real Estate industry in Austin, TX.

I am a numbers driven Real Estate agent who utilizes statistics to inform my clients. This means I give realistic educated advice without the fluff. So, if you ever have any questions about the Real Estate process, or the microcosmic market in your area, and you realize the value of up-to-date, accurate information, please call or email me. I realize there's a ton of Realty Companies in Austin, TX so know I truly value your preferences and time. I know word of mouth is the best form of advertising; therefore, my goal is to impress you so much you refer your friends and family to me as well. Rest assured I give everyone the same impeccable service.

The Blog

Market Housing Numbers


The market has been rounding a corner lately. Single family units have been up for several months in a row since last year. Beginning in May of last year, single family units closed have been up by twenty three percent per month on average. This is the season for new listings as well and it will be interesting to see how the market responds. The statistics were compiled by Texas A & M University and made available to the Austin Board of REALTORS.

Rate Forecast 2013


If you’re a buyer actively looking you may want to consider locking your rate and the cost of extending the rate lock. Local rates typically rise seasonally and the strong sales numbers may be an early indication as well.

Here’s a forecast on rate hikes and inflation from Forbes. It’s pretty clear they expect rates to rise through 2013. If the link doesn’t open, then copy and paste it into your URL web address bar.


Sabine Auction Around the Corner


Kennedy Wilson is performing the auction. The best info for Sabine is on their website, www.bidkw.com. There's a packet of info available.

Deadline to register is 2-25, Auction is on the 28th and there's a mock auction on the 21st. Auction will take place at the Hilton on 4th at 12pm; the auction begins at 1pm. Cashier's check of $2500 is required. Financing is available and sellers are willing to pay brokers 2% of winning bids for accompanied clients.

Financing is available through Bank of America and Colonial National Mortgage, but buyers will need to be pre-qualified for the auction.

Quick note: In the packet there's a table of properties available with Previous list prices and starting bids. FYI, there's an unpublished reserve on each unit which is higher than the starting bid, so they will not sell the property for the starting bids. The general feeling is the reserve is around 30% less than the previous list price, but there's no way to confirm.

The residents did have a lawsuit against the developers for issues including an elevator that had several code violations, water leaks, window seals and sound proofing. An agreement was reached, so the lawsuit was dropped and the HOA was turned over to the residents.

I think it could be a good opportunity if the reserves aren't too high. Apparently, the ceilings are 11ft high with 14 foot ceilings on the 9th floor.

National Home Prices Up for Sixth Month in a Row

With 14 of 20 national metro market areas reporting month on month gains, the free fall appears in decline. Remember, these are month on month gains, not year on year. Although markets are improving, they still lack the thunder and numbers of 2006-2007.

With month on month gains, the bleeding appears to be under control at least momentarily until the next home-buyer incentive expires in April and June. Property must be under contract by April 30th and close before June 30th to qualify for the program.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Schiller home price index released Tuesday inched up .2 percent for a seasonally adjusted reading of 145.49. The index is down 5.3 percent from November, a reflection of the home-buyer incentive expiration, but up 3.4 percent from its bottom in May of 2009. However, the index is still 30 percent below its peak in May of 2006.

Phoenix and San Francisco posted the highest seasonally adjusted month-to-month gains, while New York and Chicago showed the largest declines. Economists, however, expect another decline early this year as a result of job loss and foreclosure.

Jeff Humphreys, economist from the University of Georgia, says, “Until we get job growth, we won’t get complete healing of the housing market.” Rising prices are pertinent to economic recovery because they lead to consumer confidence as people tend to spend more money when they feel wealthier. It would also keep more people in their homes and out of foreclosure since mortgagors wouldn’t owe banks more than the property’s worth.

Prospecting Austin Commercial Real Estate?

According to Grubb & Ellison Co., Austin will have some of the best prospects for commercial real estate this year. Grubb and Ellison specialize in commercial investment property. The California based company forecasts a drop in commercial value again this year but at a much lower pace than last year. The firm expects prices to hit bottom towards the end of this year (2010) or the beginning of next (2011).

Austin was ranked number one in a national ranking of the top ten markets for long term commercial investment potential for multifamily, retail, office and industrial real estate. Houston, claiming the sixth spot, was the second and final Texas city to make the list.

Grubb & Ellis senior vice president and chief economist, Bob Bach, states, “Because Commercial Real Estate lags the labor market, it still has a ways to go before reaching its own low point. The good news is that the freefall we saw in 2009 is over and the future is more certain, giving owners and users of real estate the confidence to begin making decisions again.”

Home Starts Slow in the 4th Qtr of 2009

Residential Strategies Inc. reported 1,389 new home starts during the last quarter of 2009. Builders began 6,784 new home projects last year compared to 8,480 the year before. The latest peak occurred in 2006 when builders broke ground on 17,128 new homes.

New home median prices have dropped as well. Median prices for new homes were $201,482 during the fourth quarter of 2009, down 17K from $218,304 during the fourth quarter of 2008.

Tommy Tucker, the Austin Division Manager for Residential Strategies Inc, says, “We view this market performance favorably as indicating that the bottom of the market has been, or will soon be reached. New home starts have shown the smallest year over year decline during this downturn, furthering RSI’s opinion that the worst of the activity declines are behind us.”

Texas Longhorns Defensive Recruiting

We are fast approaching national college football signing day. I’m super-excited about the first recruits of Defensive Coordinator Will Muschamp’s tenure. Looks like some solid defensive linemen will join the Longhorn team. Texas currently has the second best recruiting class in the national team rankings. If five star recruits Jordan Hicks (LB) and Jackson Jeffcoat (DE) join the class, Texas will finally have their first five star recruits of the this years class and great potential for the future to follow the Orakpo, Kindle and (soon to be) Acho, Jones and Okafor legacy.

Texas recruits Taylor Bible (DT) and Ashton Dorsey (DT) performed well in their all star games, again, adding excitement to the class and needed depth to the position with the graduation of Houston and Alexander. The two should mesh well with young talent Randall. With Reggie Wilson (DE), our state's second rated defensive end, already committed, Jeffcoat would be a great addition to the Longhorn's class.

Aaron Benson and Tevin Jackson are the only two linebackers in the class so far, however, both should be impact players. Benson, a bit undersized, is known for his impressive instincts and explosive hits on the field. Jackson, at 6’3” 230lbs, has the size and speed (4.49 sec. 40) to make an immediate contribution. FYI, Rolando McClain was listed as 6’4” with a 4.64 second 40 time in Alabama’s recruiting class of 2007. McClain decided to enter this year's draft so, Alabama will only return two starters on defense next year.

I’m very curious about defensive back, Bryant Jackson, a 6’3” 175lb safety. Jackson’s 40 time is 4.48, seems average, but his wingspan should be interesting to see on the field.

Signing day is the first Wednesday of February. The remaining two uncommitted recruits, Jeffcoat and Hicks are expected to announce Friday.

Corporate Bail Outs and Bonuses

Here's an interesting, entertaining read forwarded to me from a colleague. The TARP architect, Neel Kashkari, admits to pulling "a number out of the air" and told The Washington Post that he used his BlackBerry to calculate the bailout figures. The Kashkaris now live in Nevada County, California where Mr. Kashkari is in "detox" from Washington while working on a shed and chopping wood.

Read the entire article here: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/economics/article6948148.ece

What’s ahead for Austin Commercial Real Estate?

Clearly it depends on who you ask but the common theme seems to be denser, modest development, acquisitions and opportunity for some. The coming decade will begin as ’09 ended…slow.

Founder, CEO of Alexandrina, Andy Sarwal believes “Land development will be slow for the next few years; therefore, the market will focus on chasing acquisitions of existing properties, particularly distressed ones that can be bought for far less than their replacement value. Nimble and well-capitalized organizations stand to be in a position to make the best plays.”

Alexandrina is the lead developer of University Park located at the old Concordia campus off 35th ST and I-35. The development features two million square feet of Class A space including office, retail, service and residences. Mr. Sarwal has a BA from UT and a Masters from Duke.

Jeff Lovaas, a partner with Commercial Real Estate Solutions (CRES), LLC sees plenty of opportunity in the years ahead but doesn’t state where and when. CRES’ mission statement is “to help clients build profits and productivity,” and Mr. Lovaas references the talk about a second central business district outside of downtown Austin. He then cites the Domain, areas of RR 620 and La Frontera could become dense nodes themselves if Central Austin continues to become more congested.

Partner at Brown McCarroll, LLP, Nikelle Meade, sees a difficult time ahead for borrowers, investors and lenders. Banks will recognize losses on commercial real estate creating more stringent practices. Furthermore, investment in real estate will become much more selective and patient and the current economic climate may create opportunities. “Real estate prices have been corrected somewhat, which should allow for more parties to get into the market and find reasonable deals on properties. Those who have cash or can get cash will see some of the best buying opportunities we’ve seen in the past thirty years.”

Brown McCarroll specializes in client representation in real estate acquisition, leasing, sales and development. Ms. Meade has a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Texas School of Law.

Austin Overpriced?

I recently read an article on Forbes.com ranking the most overpriced markets in the country. The ranking was based on: percentage of homes with price reductions, days on market and list price:absorbed price ratio. Absorbed price is a fancy way of saying pending price. The article is really comparing pending price to original list price. They incorporated the five year forecast from S&P/Case Shiller Home Price Index, from Moody’s Economy.com as well. The study ranked the 40 largest metro-geographical areas. Well, Austin ranked 10th, San Antonio 6th, and Houston 17th. Surprised? Wait, rankings 33-40 included L.A. (yes that L.A.), San Francisco, San Diego, Boston and Vegas. It’s important to remember the article refers to over-priced not over-valued (value takes local economic factors such as employment rate and income into consideration). It gives us a sense of places where sellers have come to terms with their market.

Referencing the data, it’s better to compare sales price to original list price (remember, the article compares pending price to original sales price). In some markets, one is more likely to see large discrepancies between pending price and sales price. For example, in higher priced markets, you’re more likely to see a home with a pending price around $320K with no history of price reductions sell for a number like $299K. For example: right now, Area 8E (Westlake) has a sales price : list price ratio (pending price) of 93% for the last six months, whereas, area SE (Del Valle) a ratio of 98%. Area SE has a much larger percentage of foreclosure home sales than 8E. Furthermore, if we're comparing similar ratios in markets, the more expensive market will have a larger reduction once percent is converted to dollars.

The higher priced markets in L.A. and San Francisco probably have large differences between pending price and sales price even though the difference between pending price and original list price is small. I saw no mention of supply or change in median prices. It’s important to understand that there is a difference between over-priced and over-valued. Perhaps this is why we see no mention of income. Again, there’s a difference between over-priced and over-valued when comparing places like Austin to Los Angeles or San Francisco.

The article does mention, “Some of the cities that were ranked most overpriced, like Chicago and San Antonio, had about average discrepancies between asking price and sale prices. By the strictest definition, they aren't tremendously overpriced. But red flags fly for other, more subtle signs that their list prices may be out of whack.” The article neglects defining the red flags and makes no reference to foreclosure postings.

 Top 10 of 40 Overpriced Cities according to Forbes.com

 1 Orlando-Kissimmee, FL Metro 
 2 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL Metro 
 3 Jacksonville, FL Metro
 4 Baltimore-Towson, MD Metro 
 5 Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL-IN-WI Metro 
 6 San Antonio, TX Metro 
 7 Denver-Aurora, CO Metro 
 8 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Metro 
 9 Indianapolis-Carmel, IN Metro 
 10 Austin-Round Rock, TX Metro 

 Bottom 30 of 40 Overpriced Cities according to Forbes.com

 30 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA Metro 
 31 Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, OR-WA Metro 
 32 Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA Metro
 33 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA Metro 
 34 Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH Metro 
 35 San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA Metro 
 36 Providence-New Bedford-Fall River, RI-MA Metro 
 37 Las Vegas-Paradise, NV Metro 
 38 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA Metro 
 39 Sacramento--Arden-Arcade--Roseville, CA Metro
 40 San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA Metro 

Highest Increase in Commercial Foreclosures for Austin

According to Foreclosure Listing Service, Inc., Austin commercial real estate foreclosures increased by 108% in 2009. This was the highest among the state’s metros. San Antonio’s’ rate jumped 55% while Dallas/FW rose 27%.

George Roddy Sr., Foreclosure Listing Service President, states, “As I anticipated, we have begun to see the economy’s impact on the commercial sector in 2009, and I expect postings of commercial properties to remain at this level or even higher throughout 2010.”

Last year 851 properties were filed for foreclosure compared with 410 in 2008 and 366 in 2007.

Mr. Roddy further states, “Although the gain is troubling, it does not mean that the commercial property market is in huge trouble. Residential foreclosure postings have been at the high end of the foreclosure cycle for some time now and the commercial market generally follows behind residential.”

Of the commercial foreclosure postings, 52% were the result of mortgage delinquency in smaller, older Class C or D buildings in less desirable areas. Office space was the only sector to remain stable with 19 filings.

Hope for Industrial Real Estate?

It was a tough year for Industrial Real Estate, which had the largest gain in commercial foreclosure postings in the first half of the year with 19 compared with two for the same time in the previous year. Although commercial foreclosures have been on the rise, most of the postings have been Class C or D properties opposed to Class A properties in the 1980’s. Foreclosure activity did decline for office buildings. There were seven foreclosure postings in the first part of the year compared to eleven in the same time last year.

Industrial vacancies peaked at 22% last year, the highest since 1988 according to NAI’s year-end report. There was also a negative absorption of 597,206 square-feet for industrial real estate, the worst since 2002 which lost 1.2 million square-feet.

Rob Eaves, of NAI, reported most movement among tenants occupying less than 40,000 square-feet. Only three projects over 40,000 square-feet moved or took space. Most tenants stayed in place with little to no rent increases for short term extensions. New tenant incentives included above average tenant improvement allowance and no escalations for up to three years in some cases. Average annual rates ranged from $4 to $10 a square-foot depending on age and condition.

Don’t expect a quick turnaround. Mr. Eaves expects vacancies to increase through early 2010, stating that several movements are expected, but declined to comment further. He expects recovery activity to come from business relocation from out of state.

Here’s the good news. For 2009, the greatest loss occurred during the first six months when loss peaked at 670,099 square-feet. The second half of the year recorded a small positive absorption of 72,893 square-feet.

New High Rise Announced

Local group, Schlosser Development Corp. who has developed (and manages) over 2 million square-feet of retail in Austin has announced plans for a 27 story high-rise on the vacant/parking lot between Whole Foods and Austin City Lofts.

Schlosser began in 1985 with its first project, the design, development and marketing of the San Gabriel. Shortly thereafter, in 1989 the company opened the Highland Pavilion retail center which housed the first General Cinema in Central Texas. Recent projects include the renovation of 6th and Lamar , 5th and Lamar (including REI, Book People, Office Max and Pure Austin) and the Whole Foods downtown which recently won the 2009 TOBY Office Building of the Year Award.

As proposed, the development includes two towers, one of 27 stories and another four story building. The taller tower includes seven floors and 100,000 square feet of housing, 16 floors and 364,000 square feet of office space, one story of retail, and seven levels of parking. The smaller building includes 50,000 square feet of office and retail.

A local group announcing and investing in downtown surely alleviates some worries of market conditions and perhaps shows some confidence of future market absorption. There are, however, only six out of 27 floors committed to single family residences. In fact, more square-footage is committed to parking than housing.

Sixth Annual Farmer’s Insurance Ranks Safest US Metros

According to Farmer’s Insurance Group the Austin-Round Rock metro is the safest place to live among US metros with population 500,000+.

Last year, the study ranked the Austin-Round Rock metro area 15th. The area is known for business abatements which attract companies contributing demand for jobs supplied by the local Universities. It’s becoming a center for technology and business including the headquarters of Fortune 500 companies, Dell, Whole Foods, and Freescale Semiconductor. Minimal housing depreciation and job loss contributed to this year’s top rating.

Database experts at www.bestplaces.net, compiled the rankings and took into consideration air quality, crime statistics, environmental hazards, extreme weather, foreclosures, housing depreciation, job loss numbers, life expectancy, risk of natural disasters and terrorist threats.

Large Metro Areas (500,000 or more residents) 1. Austin-Round Rock, Tex. 2. Des Moines-West Des Moines, Iowa 3. Madison, Wis. 4. Bethesda-Gaithersburg-Frederick, Md. 5. Rochester, N.Y. 6. Honolulu, Hawaii 7. Syracuse, N.Y. 8. El Paso, Tex. 9. Portland-South Portland-Biddeford, Me. 10. Nassau-Suffolk Counties, N.Y. 11. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn. 12. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Tex. 13. Portland-Beaverton, Ore.-Vancouver, Wash. 14. New Haven-Milford, Conn. 15. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn.

The Alumni Football Game

There’s a magic in the air and others feel it too. It’s that feeling before the first football game of the year when the only limit of your success is your imagination. The vision of carrying out your perfect game lingers in the air. But there’s more. It’s the emotion of the last game. The loss left on the field you may never enter again.

In a flash it’s gone…but sometimes it comes back.

Football that is: The Alumni Football Game.

In full contact with full pads to recapture what was lost one more time, our privilege to play football.

McNeil vs. Stony Point January 16, 2010

WAIT! Change of plans...not enough from McNeil. McNeil and Round Rock will combine to take on Westwood.

McNeil/Round Rock. vs. Westwood January 16, 2010

Phone Books…Really?

I got a phone book on the front door the other day. What a waste, I thought. I don’t remember the last time I opened a phone book. The last time I picked one up was to throw it away since so much can be found on the internet. Seems like a waste for companies to canvass entire neighborhoods with phone books. I understand, however, not everyone has a computer and big business would rather waste than ask. There’s probably some underlying unsustainable business practices involved as well. It wouldn’t surprise me if the number of books passed out attracts more advertisers, which drives the phone book publishers to pass out more books.

So, I’ll assume some responsibility and be sure to take my name off their delivery list.

Boise St. vs. TCU…What a Waste!

The BCS gods picked another winner. Great, I can’t wait to see who wins and wonder how good they really were. I know it’s a business decision about selling tickets and traveling fans so, what’s good for football (and fans) gets lost.

Just imagine though…Florida facing Boise…a showdown among the men in blue. TCU could battle Cincinnati, the team who jumped TCU in the last week while TCU was Idle. What a great opportunity we had to witness a classic underdog battle between BCS busters and the big boys. Remember the Fiesta Bowl classic we witnessed between Oklahoma and Boise St back in January of 2007?

This year would have been an INCREDIBLE playoff year. Instead, we’ll get to hear the winner complain about not facing the big boys, and argue for a split national title.

Eric Berry Takes Home the Thorpe Award

Last night Eric Berry of the Tennessee Volunteers won the Jim Thorpe trophy awarded to the best defensive back in the nation. I know Eric Berry is a great player who is only seven yards shy of breaking the NCAA record for career interception return yards at 501. And I know last year he had seven interceptions for 265 return yards and two touchdowns, 44 solo tackles, three sacks and six pbu’s (pass break ups). However, the award was for the 2009 season and this year Berry had a bit of an off year with only two interceptions for seven returns yards and no touchdowns, 54 tackles - six for loss, seven pbu’s, three QB hurries and one force fumble.

There was another nominee named Earl Thomas who had an outstanding year. Although Thomas only had 29 tackles for the year – six for loss (expected with a monster defense) he had 12 pbu’s (pass break ups), six interceptions returned for 149 yards and two touchdowns, and one force fumble.

Now, I know Berry had tons of tackles but isn’t that what linebackers are for? I mean anybody can tackle…especially after they lose their girlfriend to a member of the opposing team. Furthermore, it’s usually not a good sign for a defense to have a safety with so many tackles (Somebody please teach the linebackers how to get off the blocks of the offensive linemen – strength coach, we need you on this one too).

It takes some special coordination and game instincts for secondary domination and Earl Thomas was all over the field this year. Again, eight interceptions, twelve pass break ups and two touchdowns speak volumes and there’s nothing like a scorned defensive player out on the field.

Give ‘em hell Earl!

Foreclosure Trend Down for Fourth Straight Month

According to Realty Trac, a California based online foreclosure seller, foreclosures are down 8% from the previous month but up 18% from one year ago. In November they reported that nearly one in every 417 homes had a foreclosure related filing.

According to CEO, James J. Saccacio, “November was the fourth straight month that U.S. foreclosure activity has declined after hitting an all-time high for our report in July, and November foreclosure activity was at the lowest level we’ve seen since February.” He believes loan modifications and the extended buyer tax credit/move-up credit have help alleviate the symptoms.

But this is where I got lost. Realty Trac claims new foreclosures are down in Texas 7.72 percent from the previous year. However, in early November Foreclosure Listings Inc. claimed Travis Co. foreclosures were up 50% from the same time last year and Williamson Co. was up 60%...who to believe. Well, here on the front lines with Parrish and Associates, we are the busiest we’ve been in three years and I know Realty Trac has one of our foreclosures posted and the price is off by 11%.

All Big 12 Honors Named

The Big 12 Conference released conference recognition teams yesterday. I found it surprising to see Aaron (AJ) Williams left out of the mix. Granted, he was dinged up a bit over the season and missed some playing time, moreover, the true sophomore forced some key turnovers over the season. Furthermore, it seemed to me that teams began to throw away from him after testing his coverage. He's proven his value as a special teams player as well.

I don’t watch enough teams play to really make an argument for first or second team all big twelve but his sophomore stats are among the best on the team and he missed the CFU game. I expected to see him as an honorable mention with stats including 36 tackles with six for a loss, two sacks, six pass break-ups and four forced turnovers. Furthermore, he plays two positions, nickel-back and corner. So, I was really surprised to seem him not mentioned at all. Well he's mentioned here. As a corner, sometimes the best stats are no stats. After all, its hard to get more interceptions when the ball's not thrown your way because the QB recognizes your great coverage.

In all fairness, I must disclose that I’m from the same high school as Williams and played the same position on the football field. Go Mavs!

AJ Williams Sophomore Stats: 36 tackles, six TFL, two sacks, six PBU, two INTs, two forced fumbles and two pressures on the year...from www.mackbrown-texasfootball.com

Commercial Groundbreakings Coming to a Halt in DC

Commercial construction is set for a record year in the District; however, nothing new is on the horizon for 2010 according to Cushman & Wakefield’s latest office construction report.

D. C. is expecting a record 5.6 million square feet of office space to be delivered by the end of the year. Interestingly, the office vacancy rate has risen for the eighth quarter in a row. Looks like developers are finally taking notice. According to C&W, even with an economic recovery in 2010, it could take three to five years of absorption to dwindle the amount of office space currently available.

Construction costs have reduced as a result of the slowdown in commercial construction. So far this year, construction costs have fallen 12.62% according to the Turner Building Cost Index. Industry competition has also driven down labor costs and increased productivity.

Finally, Christmas Traffic Alleviation on the way for South Austin Residents.

Austin City Council approved $13 million to connect finally connect Mopac to Ben White. According to the city, construction will begin spring of 2010 and complete the next year. TX Dot is expected to cover 80% of the costs with the remainder and overages covered by the city. Under the terms, the city will cover the initial cost and be paid back interest-free, over the next 10 to 15 years once the project is completed

Record High Foreclosure Postings

According to Foreclosure Listings Inc., Austin Metro foreclosures hit a record high, 14,000 postings, for the year. This is the highest since the group began tracking foreclosure back in 2001. In November of last year, postings hit the 9,000 mark, also a record at the time. The upcoming December Travis Co. Auction will have 1,215 posting. So far, postings are up over 50% in Travis County for the year and the 4th quarter.

Williamson County fared even worse as posting are up 60% for the year and 70% for the quarter.

Local BAE Earns Army Contract worth $42 Million

British Aeronautical Engineers (BAE) opened a plant off 183 & 51st when they bought out parts of Tracor back in 1999. Now, once again they’re adding jobs to our local economy by winning a $42 million dollar contract from the Army to produce L-ROD bar armor kits for two Army ground vehicles, the Cougar and RG-31.

The aluminum alloy L-ROD body armor kit bolts directly on the vehicle without compromising vehicle performance to provide protection from RPG’s. The low cost, light weight modular design of the L-ROD system requires no welding and is easily repaired once in the field.

BAE System’s L-ROD body armor kits are produced here in Austin by an automated assembly line that opened earlier this year.

Daimler Launches Austin car2go Program

Have you noticed the little smart cars parked downtown lately? Well, they’re part of the largest car-coop car-share pilot program in the nation involving 200 smart cars in Austin. The program was originally introduced last year in Ulm, Germany, and later found success among the public.

City officials and car2go have formed a barter agreement which allow car2go on-street parking in exchange for car2go services by city employees. Moreover, the city has reserved 20 on-street spots exclusively for car2go vehicles near city office sites. There’s no exchange of funds but the city estimates value at 85K. City employees will have access to car2go for personal use, and charges incurred will be billed to their personal credit cards.

Austin #1 in Milken 2009 Best Performing US Cities Index

Fueled by Oil and Gas, and fewer subprime mortgages, Texas metros assume four of the top five spots in the 2009 Milken Institute/Greenstreet Real Estate Partners Best-Performing Cities Index. The study ranks U.S. metros according to their ability to create and sustain jobs. Technology and alternative energy provided stability among metros in Texas. Furthermore, Texas’ favorable business climate, which attracts jobs and corporations from higher-cost states, aided the higher rankings.

Ross DeVol, director of Regional Economics and lead author of the report, states “In a period of recession, the index highlights metros that have adapted to weather the storm. As we move forward in a recovery that still lacks jobs, metros will be further tested in their ability to sustain themselves.” “Best performing’ sometimes means retaining what you have.”

California and Florida metros experienced the worst decline due to the housing crisis, while Michigan metros were the worst performers with heavy losses in durable goods and the automotive industry.

The 2009 top 10 performers (with 2008 rankings) of the 200 largest metros:
1. Austin-Round Rock, TX (4)
2. Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood, TX (13)
3. Salt Lake City, UT (3)
4. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX (7)
5. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX (16)
6. Durham, NC (21)
7. Olympia, WA (9)
8. Huntsville, AL (5)
9. Lafayette, LA (14)
10. Raleigh-Cary, NC (2)

For the complete article visit:

Windsor Oaks Condo Lawsuit

Here's an interesting tidbit...I recently noticed a lawsuit involving the condos I blogged about on 10/05/09. It looks like a group of buyers overpaid and are suing all parties involved with the transaction...lender, agents, brokers, appraisers, etc. I haven't read the lawsuit entirely but what I found interesting was the group of buyer's were all from California. I wonder if they bought these site unseen and I wonder if the agents took advantage of the situation. It'll be interesting to see how everything turns out.

Homebuyer Tax Credit Advancing in Senate

The first time home-buyer tax credit is likely to be extended until April 30th. Furthermore, move-up buyers will be granted a $6500 tax credit but there’s an income limit of $150,000 for single filers and $225,000 for joint filers.

In our market, pending sales are up 50% from last year and the average price is $250k. From experience, I can say almost all first time home buyers use an FHA loan and with the FHA limit of 288k, it’s deducible the tax credit has boosted our local market.

Although 70% of our market exists under $250K and received some relief, the 25% of the market priced $250K-$500K has had little help. In September, the supply of homes from $100K to $250K was four months, while it was 6.4 months for homes priced $250K-$400K, both improvements over last year. For homes price $400k-500K, however, supply was similar to last year at 9.6 months.

With the support of the new move-up program to income levels required for purchases to $500K, hopefully, this sector of our market will see some activity. It will be interesting to see how the termination date of April 30th plays out since most families prefer to move in the summer. Will families pull their kids from school or drive them to take advantage of $6500 if their income levels are up to $225K? I don’t know, but it will drive some needed attention to the price range.

Market Numbers

Happy Saturday everyone...best of luck for your teams today. Lets hope the Longhorns take care of business in Stillwater! Have a safe weekend.

Just a quick note to let everyone know the Texas A&M Research Center released the Austin MLS Area statistics for September last week. The top five performers where:

   MLS Area   Inventory in Months
 1. 10S        1.9
 2. N          2.2
 3. 10N        3
 4. 2N         3.3
 5. NW         3.3

The bottom five Austin performers where:

 1. LS         13.2
 2. 1B         11.7
 3. 8E         11.1
 4. UT         9.3
 5. 5          9.3

Contact me for questions or interpretation of how these numbers affect you and some of the driving forces.

Market Consistency

After writing my last blog, I noticed how consistent our market has been over the last year when considering the breakdown of homes sold by price range. I reduced price range into the following three areas for consideration:
1. $1-199.9K
2. $200-399.9K
3. $400K+

The entry level or area 1 of our market consistently accounted for 50% of our market sales with an average of 54.1% of the units sold since January. The low point was during June, when sales less than $200k made up 49.9% of our market, while the highpoint occurred in January when sales totaled 58.2%.

The mid-level market, area 2, has accounted for an average of 34.7% of units sold over the past year. In other words, one third of our market sales occurred between $200 and $400K. During June, there was a mere 3.4 month supply of homes between $200 and $250K and a 4.2 month supply for homes between $250K and 300K. The high point occurred in June when the mid-level market accounted for 37.3% of sales. The low was 32.2% in March.

Area 3, the high end of the market, has represented 11.2% of the market sales over the past year. The height happened in June when sales hit 12.8% of the market share, while January's 9.1% was the low.

Price class with 2009 sales distribution.
1. $1-199.9K......54.1%
2. $200-399.9K..34.7%
3. $400K+.........11.2%

Be Aware of Market Interpretation

There's some talk from various sources of the 'market showing signs of improvement.' Sure sales are up 6%, median price is up 2% and pending sales are up 24%, but that's only for the month of September. Most or 55.6 percent of those sales occurred below 200K. Another 33.7 percent of September sales occurred between $200-399K, while only 10.7 percent of sales were above 399K.

Right now there's 2,590 pending properties, compared to 1,234 this time last year. The average price of sales pending right now is $239K. With talks of a 'jobless recovery' and increasing foreclosures, it seems obvious the $8,000 tax credit has accelerated areas of the market this fall. Does this mean market-wide improvement? No, but that's open to interpretation.

Texas No.2 Nationally in 2008 Tech Exports

Texas ranks second nationally in tech exports according to the TechAmerica Foundation. In 2008 tech exports for Texas were up $117 million from 2007 for a total of $39.8 billion. The leading exports in 2008 were semiconductor exports at $10.7 billion, communications equipment at $9.5 billion, computer and peripheral equipment at $8.1 billion and electronic components at $3.5 billion.

Semiconductor exports were actually down 16 percent from 2007, while communications equipment exports were up 27 percent. Computers and peripheral equipment exports were up 17 percent from 2007 and electronic component exports remained constant.

Texas sent $14.6 billion goods to Mexico in 2008, making it our states leading export destination. Mexico was followed by Canada, South Korea, Taiwan, and The Netherlands.

Texas’ high-tech exports in 2008 supported 253,600 jobs, which led the nation.

Texas Unemployment Rises

According to figures released by the Texas Workforce Commission today, Texas' seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose from 8 percent in August to 8.2 percent in September. Currently the national average unemployment rate is 9.8 percent.

Total non-agricultural positions fell 44,700 since August. There were some bright spots, however. 'Other Services' sector including automotive, electronic and commercial repair and maintenance experienced the largest growth adding 8,800 jobs. Education and Health services added 2,700 jobs last month. The largest losses occurred in the Leisure and Hospitality industry which lost 16,900 positions while Professional and Business Services lost 16,500 positions. Finally, Trade, Transportation and Utilities lost 13,000 positions in September.

Market Opportunity

I’ve seen some interesting deals in the market place lately. For example, there was a foreclosure resale condo I saw lately off Windsor Road. Obviously the location was phenomenal so, how does a property like this go into foreclosure?

Well, the condo complex was predominantly owned by investors, shortcoming the recent 70% owner-occupant rule of financing. The condo was somewhat renovated with cabinets, flooring, counter-tops, and fixtures. Moreover, appliances were missing and some of the work was left unfinished. It appears an investor purchased a few of the condos and began renovations to flip the property. However, the investor lost his market when banks stopped lending minimum down payment products on condominiums with fewer than 70% owner-occupants early this year.

Loans are still available for purchasers with a 25% down payment; however, the amount required to purchase the renovated unit with the $335K price tag would have been $83,750 opposed to $11,725 with a 3.5% down payment in ’07 and ’08. When down payment requirements increase eight-fold buyers usually run…hence foreclosure.

So, how does this become a deal? When list price drops to 170K and the unit requires about 15K…I call that a deal. Some even qualify for the Home Path renovation loan requiring only 3% down payment and allow the buyer to finance repairs with a one time close. Remember, this is in an area that averages $250 a foot for units of similar size.

Homebuyer Credit Closing Out

The first-time homebuyer tax credit is quickly coming to a close and without any reassuring news of an extension. For those who need to sell, it would be a mistake to miss this driving market force. Unfortunately, “jobless” recoveries do not help sell homes as evidenced by the climbing foreclosure rate locally and nationally. We just had fourteen orders this month, a monthly number we haven't seen in three years.

Call or email me now! (mike@q4uhomes.com) Take advantage of this opportunity before the foreclosure market increases your competition.

Mortgage Preapproval Tips

With the deadline for the first time buyer tax credit looming just a few months away, don't wait to get pre-approved. As soon as you are ready to start shopping for a home get a preapproval letter from a mortgage lender. This will tell you how much you can borrow and therefore how much house you can afford to buy. This will save you time and energy by narrowing down your search criteria to homes you can realistically purchase. A preapproval letter in hand will also let sellers know you are serious and will help me negotiate the best deal for you.

Follow these tips to take the uncertainty out of this process:

1. Shop around - I encourage my clients to talk to 2-3 different lenders. I am happy to provide you with a list of reputable lenders.
2. Dust off the file cabinet. You should be prepared to provide proof of income and assets such as W2s, bank statements, pay stubs, and federal tax returns.
3. Know that mortgage rates can change from the time of preapproval to time when you sign a contract.
4. Know your your credit score and understand how certain activities like applying for new credit cards will affect your score.
5. Don't forget that your preapproval has an expiration date and if you are within 15-30 days of the expiration date, ask your lender to re-validate it.
6. Be upfront with your lender about changes in your financial situation since preapproval.

Buying a home is an exciting time, but it can be stressful. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the mortgage or purchasing process.

Bel-Air Condos Sell at Auction

There was a large crowd present for the Bel-Air condo auction last night according to KEYE. The Bel-Air Condos are located on South Congress just north of Stassney. They have a utilitarian contemporary style including exposed rafters and ductwork with lots of metal and glass. Most units are three levels and include a private deck and garage. http://weareaustin.com/content/fulltext/?cid=22861 and

Is the Market Hitting Bottom?

I here lots of talk about the market bottoming out. Well, I have a question. How can you hit bottom if some numbers are still falling? (Yes, I know it depends on the numbers you review. I try to keep things simple…I consider median price and months of supply for the Austin MLS or the same numbers from the RE Center at TX A&M. The RE Center provides our MLS statistics.) Perhaps we’re beginning to hit the edge near the bottom, which is usually parabola shaped.

The only number that hasn’t fallen is median price; however, this trend may be due ‘move-up’ buyers.

Move-up buyers, for example, understand the cost of selling at a loss of 6% at 225K in a market with 6 months of supply is worth the savings of 9% in a 400K market with more than double the supply (buyers have lots to choose from and generally get a house in better shape). Savings are calculated using the ‘original list price’ to ‘sales price’ ratio.

Although median price didn’t fall from this time last year, sales are still down. Second quarter sales are down 15% and supply is up 11% from last year. There was much improvement, however, from the first quarter when supply was up 29% and sales were down 29% from last year (Perhaps the leftovers from the first quarter finally sold). Remember this is on the larger MLS scale. There are some areas of low supply that seem more insulated from general market conditions. Remember, contact me for accurate, insightful data you can rely on specific to your area, neighborhood and subdivision.

The best home buying opportunity in a generation

If you have good credit, job stability, and a little bit of cash available for a down-payment, right now is an extremely opportune time for first-time buyers to enter the real estate market, especially considering that mortgage rates are low. The $8,000 tax credit you'll receive if you purchase before December 1, 2009 is just an added bonus. Check out a brief summary of the national real estate market at the following link:


Austin Named As One of the Nation's 10 Greenest Cities

The Mothernature Network, and environmental news group, named Austin as one of the greenest cities in the country thanks to Austin’s plan to go carbon-neutral by 2020 and Austin Energy, the nation’s largest provider of renewable energy.

Other cities named to the Network’s list include Chicago; Seattle; Berkeley, Calif.; Cambridge, Mass.; Eugene, Ore.; Oakland, Calif.; Boston; San Francisco; and Portland, Ore.


Repairing the Wrong Roof

An interesting thing happened the other day (I was the buyers agent in this transaction). After negotiations during the option period, a seller agreed to make certain roof repairs to their property. My buyer client was very concerned about certain roof conditions and was relieved to know the seller understood and would address the concern.

The difficulty in a transaction after the option period expires is ensuring the seller performs the agreed upon repairs to the satisfaction of the buyer before closing.

With that said, the closing date was quickly approaching after accumulating three roof repair estimates. The roofer was chosen and the roofing repairs were delayed due to unexpected rain. The delay meant repairs would be performed the week before closing giving very little margin for error in the time line. After a call from the seller's agent communicated the completion of roof repairs, I decided to visit the property and ensure the repairs were performed.

Upon visiting the property, (Although I am no general inspector) it was clear to me the roof hadn't been touched. I called the seller's agent who explained repairs were performed to her knowledge. I called the roofer and had the same comment from the administrator who answered the phone (agitating my frustration). Finally, I called the cell phone number of the contractor who performed the repairs. After a short conversation with the contractor, we both realized the repairs were done to the wrong roof. The contractor apologized and corrected the error the next morning.

In this business, it is important to follow up on every detail regardless of what is communicated. I personally confirm every step of the business whether its delivery of a contract, rekey from a locksmith or repairs to a roof.

The ABJ reported Austin as one of the best cities in America for relocating singles!


Austin tops the Forbes list for best value in America.

The rankings were based on the following criteria: job growth projections, inflation, median house price, median household income, cost of living, and gas prices.


Citigroup has announced that it will be imposing a moratorium on foreclosures for eligible borrowers

This program will attempt to help eligible borrowers if it is the borrower's principal residence, the homeowner is working in good faith with Citi and has sufficient income to make affordable mortgage payments. Not to mention that Citi is no doubt hoping to alleviate some of their own losses. Citi is targeting homeowners in geographic areas with higher-than-average unemployment and foreclosure rates, primarily in Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

Fortunately, the Austin market, and Texas over-all, has largely been unaffected by the housing and economic crisis that is wreaking havoc on some parts of the county. With the current volatility in the stock market, well-valued real estate in a healthy market such as Austin is one of the best places to invest for the long-term. Unlike many other cities in America, property values in Austin have not been exuberantly over-inflated across the board and although some areas are experiencing an increase in supply, the overall trends in value have remained relatively stable. Some areas of increased supply are producing great values and now through 2010 looks like a great market for buyers according to historical market cycles. With more competition homeowners are forced to make more repairs and improve condition prior to listing if they are serious about selling.


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