In the City of Austin, there are protected tree ordinances to preserve and promote the growth of healthy trees. If you are interested in developing a lot, remodeling a home, or adding an accessory dwelling unit to your property, it’s helpful to understand these tree regulations.
The City of Austin determines which trees are protected by looking at the size of the tree, type of tree, heath of tree, and the site. Trees are measured at the diameter, at 4.5 feet from the ground. A tree with a diameter of 19 inches or greater is protected by the City of Austin’s tree ordinance.
If you find a tree with a diameter that exceeds 19 inches on the subject lot, that does not mean all your development plans come to a shattering halt. It does mean, that your process is going to be a bit more difficult. You will need to submit a Tree Ordinance Review Application at the same time you submit your residential building plan. The application will be reviewed by a City Arborist, and depending on your plans you may also need to obtain a tree survey and or a tree inspection.
The Critical Root Zone requirements of the Tree Ordinance most limit the development potential of a lot with one or more trees with a 19 inch or greater diameter. Proposed development plans must demonstrate that trees will be preserved. The mechanism the city uses to illustrate root system preservation is known as the Critical Root Zone Area (CRZ). The CRZ is based on the diameter of the tree. The formula to calculate CRZ is tree diameter (in inches) x 2, then convert to feet. For example, for a tree with a 30 inch diameter, the CRZ= 60 ft. CRZ can be visualized as 3 circles that surround the base of the tree. The outermost circle is the Critical Root Zone where development is most lenient, here you can impact up to 50% with a driveway, porch, dwelling etc. In the next smaller circle, the ½ CRZ, you could add a ribbon driveway, etc. as long as it is no more than 4” below grade so usually any structure wound need pries with footing no more than 4” below grade. In the innermost circle, the ¼ CRZ, there must be no impact.
If you’re new to Austin, you may be wondering what these spurts of blue are that you keep seeing along the sides of highways. Well, these are bluebonnets, the state flower. However, they won’t be here for long, so if you want to get an epic bluebonnet picture you should act now. Luckily, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite locations to get that perfect shot.
Ok Muleshoe Bend is a little outside of Austin in Spicewood, Texas. However, it has some of the most beautiful, sprawling displays of bluebonnets I have ever seen. Muleshoe Bend is a 654 acre park on the banks of Lake Travis. It has copious trails for walking and biking, beautiful campsites with water views, and of course, epic bluebonnets.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center located near Circle C in southwest Austin is a great place to visit any time of year. However, now it is one of the best places to see the state flower in full bloom. In fact, Lady Bird Johnson played a large role in creating all of the bluebonnets we see along highways today through her beautification efforts. She incentivized folks to grow wildflowers by personally writing checks for winners of her Texas Highway Beautification Awards.
Along the edges of 360 near the loop 360 bridge, aka Pennybacker bridge there are often tons of bluebonnets. You will also find a scattering of Indian Paintbrushes and other wildflowers here. If you park underneath the bridge near the boat ramp, you can easily walk to a number of good photoshoot locations.
Willow City Loop
Just northwest of Fredericksburg off Hwy 16 is the historic 13-mile Willow City Loop. It offers one of the most picturesque displays of Texas wildflowers. In addition to the colorful fields or wildflowers, there are rolling hills and a beautiful canyons speckled with live oaks, pecan and mesquite trees.
Many people will tell you that the best time to sell your Austin area home is in the spring. However, is now really the best time to think about listing your home for sale? Well, it may be and it may not be. For many Austin residents, spring likely is the best time to sell your home. However, depending on what type of home you have and where it is located, you may be better off waiting if you want to sell for the most money.
For homeowners in the City of Austin, spring probably is the best time to sell your home. Over the past three years, the median home sales price for single family homes in the city limits has been highest in the summer months. In 2015, the highest median sales price for these homes occurred in May at $360,000. In 2016, the highest monthly median sales price was $377,470 in June. Last year, we saw the highest median sales price occur in June again with the median sales price increasing to $407,500.
As you can see, single family homes in the City of Austin really do sell for the most money in the spring. It’s not all about the price though. If a quick sale is important to you, the spring market is great for that too. The last column in the chart above represents the number of days a home is on the market before it goes under contract. Over the past three years, the median days to sell in the spring months was almost always less than 2 weeks.
If you’re thinking you want to sell your Austin home for the most money in the least amount of time, now is the time to start preparing to sell your home. Keep in mind that there is usually about a month of time from the date the contract is accepted until the closing date. In order to close in June, you want to list your home in April or May.
Now, if you are thinking about selling your condo in the City of Austin, now may not be the best time to sell. City of Austin condos had the highest median sales price in December for both 2015 and 2016. In 2017, the highest median sales price for condos in the city limits occurred in October when the median sales price was just under $305K.
If you don’t live in the city limits of Austin, spring may not be the best time for you to sell either. While single family home sales in Travis and Hays County conformed to the spring is the time to sell trend, homes in Williamson County did not.
In Travis County, May was the month with the highest median sales price in 2015. In 2016 and 2017, June yielded the highest median sales price for single family homes in Travis County with sales prices of $350K and $370K respectively. Hays County single family home sales showed the highest median sales price for 2015 in June with a price of S250K. In 2016, the highest median sales price occurred in April. Last July yielded the highest median sales price for 2017 with a median sales price of $270K.
Conversely, winter seems to be the best time to sell single family homes in Williamson County. In 2015, the highest median sales price was $252,500 which occurred in December! A month usually not associated with peak selling season. In 2016, November yielded the highest monthly median sales price, and in 2017, December led again with a median sales price of $287K. I should note that in 2017, the June median sales price was a close second with a median sales price of $286,713 and a much shorter number of days on market, 15 days compared to 40 in December.
If you’re thinking about selling your home this year, you really need to look at the market activity in your specific neighborhood. I’d be happy to run individualized reports for you; just contact me. Alternatively, if you are mildly curious what your home is worth, click here for a quick home worth estimate.
Recently, I was talking to a prospective client. We were discussing commissions and he commented, “well, a listing agent really doesn’t do anything”. I resisted the urge to scream obscenities at his face, and calmly replied that a good listing agent does a lot more than you think. Besides, taking care of the essential duties when listing a home for sale, I’ve gone above and beyond for my Austin area real estate listings more times than I can count.
So, what exactly does a listing agent do? Well, first and foremost, I cover the basics. I help you price your property, prepare it for the sale, market it to prospective buyers, negotiate the offers, and ensure a smooth closing. I don’t just put a sign in the yard, a lockbox on the door and say good luck.
When I help my seller clients prepare their home for sale, that sometimes means I’m getting down and dirty with them. I want the home to show the best it can, after all, any listing is a reflection of my work. In the past, I have helped clear out the belongings from a home that had been vacant for over 5 years, mopped the floors of a condo minutes before the photographer arrived, coordinated extensive remodels so that my seller would get the highest price for his home, and even mowed the lawn. I also have personally staged a number of my vacant listings. A staged home sells quicker and for more money than a vacant property so I lug couches into and out of homes, and add décor touches.
Once the home is ready, I pay a professional photographer to capture the property in its best light. I try to always meet him there to make sure he captures unique elements of the property, and then I take those images and create a full-fledged marketing campaign. I stay up late designing flyers, spreading the images through social media, and promoting the property through a plethora of other modes.
Sure I put the property on the MLS, as any competent agent would, but I also field numerous phone calls and emails from prospective buyers, coordinate showings, and when it’s necessary personally show the home. I host open houses, and door knock the neighborhood to make sure all the neighbors no your home is for sale. I put your home on REALTOR tours to make sure all the agents who work your neighborhood know the home is for sale as well.
While your home is on the market, I make sure it stays in tip-top shape. This winter, we had an unprecedented amount of freezes in Austin. I regularly attended to my listings, making sure the heat was on, cabinets were open, and just to be sure the pipes wouldn’t freeze, turned the water off. I joked with one seller client recently that this was the hardest part of my job; I had bloodied my knuckles and bruised my arms countless times while struggling with a wrench to move that tight knob to turn the water on and off.
At another listing of mine, I noticed someone had tracked mud all across the brand new carpet. I personally got on my hands and knees and scrubbed and sprayed that carpet till it looked good and new.
My listing efforts are not limited to physical labor. A few years ago I was helping a young lady sell a home she had inherited in East Austin. Unfortunately, her grandmother didn’t have a will and the mortgage company refused to release the payoff statement to her. This was delaying closing and something had to be done. I must have called, and emailed at least twenty high up employees at the bank. I sent out hand-written notes, and finally, I got through to someone, and she was able to send us the payoff statement.
Of course, I handle all the other tasks a good listing agent takes care of too. I negotiate for my clients’ best interests, prepare net-sheets for incoming offers, vet prospective buyers, and ensure the final settlement statement is prepared correctly.
I’m sure this sounds like a lot of work, and don’t get me wrong it is, but I love every minute of it. I take great pride in my work, and feel a great sense of accomplishment when my client sees the amount of money they made on their home sale. If you’re looking for a go-getter, who works hard to ensure your Austin area home sells for the most money, contact me today.
Erika Rae Albert
Sharing my Austin real estate updates, home owner tips, & more.