As someone thinking about a move to Austin, I’m sure you may be curious about how much you should expect to pay in property taxes for any given home. Property tax rates vary drastically across central Texas, and it’s important you have a good estimate of what this cost will be before you buy a home. Your annual property taxes will be calculated using the purchase price of the home and the tax rate for that specific property. If it’s your primary home, you can apply for a homestead exemption reducing the amount of your total annual property tax bill. However, you have to know the tax rate to even have a rough idea of what you may expect to pay in property taxes!
Until today, I didn‘t realize just how hard it was to search for this critical number. It’s almost impossible to search for homes with low property taxes in the Austin area. I scoured hundreds of websites and did not find one that had a search field for property tax rates.
Luckily, I have the ability to search for Austin homes with low property tax rates in the MLS. I know, ideally you don’t want to talk to me. What you really want is to be able to just search for it yourself! But, since this isn’t an option right now, and I have yet to create what you really want (a great search interface that lets you search for the EXACT home you want with as many search fields as possible), I thought I would try to make the search just a little easier for you!
You can click any of the following links to view Austin homes for sale with a low property tax rate.
Homes and Condos within 10 Miles of Downtown with a Property Tax Rate Under 2%
Homes in the Greater Austin Area Under 500K with a Property Tax Rate Under 2%
Homes in the Greater Austin Area Under 300K with a Property Tax Rate Under 2%
Homes in the Greater Austin Area Under 300K with a Property Tax Rate Under 2.3%
These links were created on 2/10/19, and the results will not stay relevant forever. If you want better results and a more customized search, feel free to text, email or call me. Once you let me know exactly what you are looking for, I can set you up to get updates for all Austin area homes that meet your unique search criteria including a low property tax rate :)
In real estate, a right of first refusal is a contractual right that gives the holder the option to purchase a specified property when the owner decides to sell. This right of first refusal is usually written up by a lawyer, and the terms are agreed upon by the owner of the property and the holder of the right of first refusal. A right of first refusal may be used in a variety of situations.
Recently, a client of mine inquired about obtaining a right of first refusal on his neighbor’s vacant lot. He was potentially interested in purchasing the lot, and if the owner was going to sell the lot, he wanted the first opportunity to do so. In this way, he could control his own personal quality of life. If someone else was going to buy the lot and build a massive home that would encroach upon his sense of privacy, he could exercise his right of first refusal and purchase the lot.
You also may see the right of first refusal used between a landlord and his tenant. If the tenant likes the home, and would someday like to purchase the property, he may seek a right of first refusal to secure this option.
As an owner of a property, your initial thought may be that a right of first refusal is a win-win scenario for you. Either you sell the property to the person who initially submits an offer to purchase, or the holder of the right of first refusal purchases the property. However, in reality this may not be the case. If the wording is not incredibly black and white, and there are not strict timelines, you may be stuck unable to sell the property. If you are considering signing a right of first refusal, you should work with an attorney to make sure the terms are incredibly clear and leave no room for different interpretations.
In another recent transaction, I was representing the buyer of a condo. The condo association documents revealed a right of first refusal clause that granted the developers and their successors +21 years, the right to purchase any condo unit in the development. In this right of first refusal clause, it specifically states that if a condo owner receives an offer on his condo, he must provide written notice to the developer (ie the holder of the right of first refusal) and the developer shall have the right to purchase the subject unit upon the same terms and conditions in the initial offer.
However, this wording which was drafted in 1973, reveals a lot of ambiguity. My client’s initial offer involved a cash transaction with a closing seven days after the execution of the contract. The holder of the right of first refusal exercised her right of first refusal, but she failed to match these terms. Unfortunately, there was no recourse for the seller. The right of first refusal is worded strongly in favor of the holder. In this scenario, which has yet to come to a conclusion, so far everyone lost. My client was not able to purchase the property. The seller was not able to sell the property, and the holder of the right of first refusal has not proved capable of purchasing the property.
The issue with this right of first refusal clause was that the holder had all the leverage. There was not a strict timeline for the holder to waive or exercise the right of first refusal, and there was a lack of specificity in regards to the terms of the contract. If I was a property owner considering signing a right of first refusal, I would make sure that the holder had a very tight timeline to waive or exercise the right of first refusal, probably less than a week. Furthermore, I would make sure that if the holder exercises the right of first refusal they must do so in a specified time frame, and if he fails to close in that timeline, the right is automatically waived.
If you are considering signing a right of first refusal, I recommend you hire an experienced attorney to make sure you do not fall victim to the same scenario. Likewise, if you are thinking of buying a property where a right of first refusal exists, do your due diligence and make sure you fully understand the terms of that right before you waste your time and money on a purchase that may never come to fruition.
If you would like recommendations for experienced real estate attorneys in the Austin area, don’t hesitate to contact me.
If you’re planning to sell your home in Texas, you almost always need to provide a seller’s disclosure form. This form is provided to buyers informing them of any known defects to the property, previous repairs, and general property conditions. There are a few exceptions for the mandate to provide a seller’s disclosure, and they are noted in the Texas Property Code. These exceptions include:
While a seller’s disclosure is not required in these cases, you may still want to provide a seller’s disclosure if you have knowledge of the property. One of, if not the most, common reason for lawsuits in real estate is from failing to disclose known information about the property condition. So, if you own a fourplex, and you previously were the landlord for the property. You likely know about some aspects of the property’s condition. I’d recommend completing a seller’s disclosure form even though you are not required to per the Texas Property Code.
The seller’s disclosure form I recommend my clients use is the Texas Association of REALTORS® Seller’s Disclosure Notice (TAR-1406). This form is composed of eleven sections. The first section simply lists which features a property has.
The second, third and fourth sections deal with known issues, defects or conditions at the property. The fifth section addresses a range of property conditions including if the property is located in an HOA. The sixth section deals with the survey, and the seventh section asks owners to list any inspections provided within the past four years. If you have an inspection report from this time frame, you must provide it. Section eight pertains to tax exemptions, and section nine addresses insurance claims to the property. Section 11 require’s seller’s to disclose knowledge in regards to the presence of smoke detectors on the property.
The last page of the seller’s disclosure notice should not be ignored. It discusses additional notices to buyers and the utility providers for the property. Filling out the utility provider fields will make it much easier for the buyer to transfer utilities when the property is sold.
If you have questions about the Texas Seller’s Disclosure notice, or selling your home, contact me today.
Lady Bird Lake or Town Lake as it was formerly known, is a dammed portion of the Colorado river situated just south of downtown Austin. Currently the lake and its surrounding hike and bike trails serve as an attraction for locals and visitors alike. However, Lady Bird Lake was not always as beautiful as it is now.
The lake was created in 1960 as a cooling pond for the adjacent Holly Power Plant. In its early days, Town Lake, as it was known at the time, was an eye-sore. In the early seventies, the Mayor of Austin, Roy Butler, established the Town Lake Beautification Committee. Lady Bird Johnson was appointed the honorary chairman of this committee. In this role, she led the planting of hundreds of plants and trees and the establishment of the hike and bike trails around the lake.
When Lady Bird Johnson died in 2007, Town Lake formally changed its name to Lady Bird Lake in her honor. If you’re visiting Austin, I highly recommend you take a visit to Lady Bird Lake. While you are not permitted to swim in Lady Bird Lake, you can use non-motorized water boats. As a kid, I remember renting a pedal boat for an afternoon on Town Lake, but now stand up paddle boarding is by far the most popular recreational activity on Lady Bird Lake.
If you don’t want to be on the lake, you can take advantage of the trails surrounding Lady Bird Lake. A ten-mile loop offers the perfect landscape for one to explore Austin by bike, or if you feel like walking or running you can also make a shorter loop.
This post originally appeared on activerain.com
If you’re considering buying a home in Austin, it’s a smart idea to consider the property tax rate of prospective houses. Property tax rates can vary significantly throughout central Texas, and oftentimes your property taxes are going to make up a significant portion of your monthly mortgage payment. In a previous post, I discussed the benefits of purchasing a brand new home. If you’re looking to buy a brand new home in South Austin, you may want to consider purchasing in one of these three great communities. Each of these new home communities in the Austin area has a property tax rate under 2%.
Hills of Bear Creek
The Hills of Bear Creek Development by Milestone Community Builders is located approximately 14 miles south of downtown Austin off FM 1626 in the City of Manchaca. Homes in the Hills of Bear Creek are the most affordable on this list starting at 290K. The Hills of Bear Creek is a multi-phase development that is more than 50% complete. They have inventory and soon to be completed homes available in Phase 4. If you would like to choose your lot and selections, you can do so in the last and final Phase 5. The community offers 9 unique floor plans that all come standard with desired features such as granite countertops, open floor plans and energy-saving technology. Additionally a plethora of community features such as a pool and grilling area offer even more reasons to consider the Hills of Bear Creek home. Click here to view available homes in the Hills of Bear Creek.
Bear Creek Crossing
MI Homes’ Bear Creek Crossing neighborhood feels like you are in the middle of the country. In reality, the community is less than 15 miles from downtown Austin and about 10 minutes from the South Park Meadows shopping center which has just about every large retailer you can think of and a plethora of restaurants. Homes in Bear Creek Crossing range from 1,825 to 4,000 square feet, and are priced from 313K. Tall ceilings, 42 inch kitchen cabinets, and a plethora of options for customization make Bear Creek Crossing homes a great fit for almost everyone. The tax rate for Bear Creek Crossing is the lowest of all the homes on this list at 1.86%. Click here to view available homes in Bear Creek Crossing.
Enclave at Estancia
The Enclave at Estancia is a gated community built by Lennar. The Enclave at Estancia is the only gated community on this list, and the community features a gorgeous community park and pool; homes here start from 335K. All of the homes at the Enclave at Estancia come standard with top of the line features like stainless steel appliances, dual vanities in the master bathroom, and a home automation package. Additionally, the homes all have a TAEXX® Built-In Pest Control System. I had never even heard of this feature before visiting the Enclave at Estancia, but it’s essentially a pest control system of mini tubes that are built in to the walls of your home with an exterior receptacle for pest control service providers to deliver treatments in to the home.
There are a variety of different floorpans available at the Enclave at Estancia. However, one of the more unique offerings is the Giallo II home within a home floor plan. It’s essentially a 3 bedroom, 3 bath home with an attached guest suite with 1 bedroom, 1 bath a living room and a kitchenette. This ‘“guest suite” has its own access from the outside, but can also be accessed from the interior of the main home. It’s a great floorpan for families with have an elderly parent or parents with boomerang children. While the tax rate for homes in the Enclave at Estancia is 1.87%; please note homes in this community must also make annual payments towards the PID. Click here to view available homes in the Enclave at Estancia.
Would you like more information about other homes that are located in an area with a property tax rate under 2%? Contact me today to learn about other areas in Austin.
On the national scale, there are rumblings of a market shift in the real estate market. However, at the local level, real estate sales remain strong. According to Steve Crorey, President of the Austin Board of REALTORS, "Sales are up 3.3 percent year-to-date for 2018”. The Austin-Round Rock MSA experienced growth in both the number of homes sold and the median sales price while the City of Austin revealed fewer sales, but a higher median price. As prices within the city limits continue to increase, buyers are moving farther out in search of an affordable home.
In the Austin-Round Rock MSA, the sales volume increased slightly to 2,201 sales last month while the median home price increased to $301,391. As would be expected, there was an increase in all stages of listings year over year: new listings (+1.7%), active listings (+11.5%) and pending sales (+2.5%).
Within the City of Austin, median sales price rose 5% to $374,900. At the same time, November home sales in the City of Austin decreased from 653 sales in November 2017 to 618 sales in November 2018. The total sales dollar volume for the City of Austin remained the same at $288,251,771.
In my opinion, the strength of the Austin real estate market is directly correlated to the health of the Austin job market. The local unemployment rate is extremely low, 2.6%, and major businesses continue to move here or expand operations in Austin such as Apple announced this week.
Furthermore, Austin will also always be home to both the University of Texas and government employers. There are over 50,000 students enrolled in undergrad or graduate programs at UT, and the vast majority of these students stick around and call Austin home. With Austin being the state capitol of Texas, it is also home to a number of other government agencies such as the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts; Texas Department of Transportation; Texas Department of Public Safety; Texas Water Development Board, and the Texas Department of Health. The bottom line is that Austin has a healthy local economy with a variety of high tech businesses built upon a backbone of government and education. As long as there are jobs, the real estate market will stay strong.
If you’re interested in moving to Austin, contact me today for more information about how you can call this wonderful city home.
Looking for a unique gift this holiday season. Why not consider something for the home that the entire family can enjoy? I’ve curated a list of my favorite home items that are sure to make an impression on anyone on your list this year. Some of these are decorative items, some of them are incredibly useful, and others are a mix of both. Take a look at my top picks below, and try to remember this is the season of giving even though you may be tempted to buy them all for your own home!
These adorable little planters will seriously brighten your day. I have two on my windowsill and every time I look at them they bring me so much joy! They are playful and easy to care for with minimal maintenance. You can buy them locally at Maya on South Congress or on Etsy for about $20
Have someone on your list who always wants the latest tech gadget? Consider a ring doorbell. This modern doorbell features a camera that displays straight to your smart phone so you can know who is at the door without even getting up. Find it on Amazon from $99
Faux Animal Head
Looking for a unique gift for someone you love? Consider getting them a Faux Animal Head that will seriously turn heads! White Faux Taxidermy makes a variety of beautiful animal heads that come in assorted colors to match any rooms décor. In true Austin fashion, I chose a longhorn skull for my home, but they also have deer and elephant heads as well as more imaginative ones such as their unicorn mount. Find them at White Faux Taxidermy; prices range from $40-$140.
Map of The World Scratch Off
The map of the world scratch off poster is the perfect gift for the world traveler in your life. Recipients can scratch off all the places they have been, and continue to scratch off locales as they travel. This map has outlined states for the US and Canada so they can mark their domestic trips too! Get it from Amazon for $27.99
Looking for the gift that keeps on giving? Consider an automatic vacuum that will keep floors sparking all the time. No one enjoys spending time cleaning floors, so consider gifting that special someone in your life a robotic vacuum cleaner. The iRobot Roomba learns your home’s floor plan, can be set to a schedule to go off at a certain time each day, and the latest model even empties itself. Find it at Best Buy or Amazon starting at $249
Buying a home can be super exciting! You’re likely looking for something that has enough space for your family, is convenient to work or in a good school district. You may be looking for something that is your style, or maybe you’re looking for something with good bones that has the potential to be your dream home. No matter which of these items you are looking for in a home, you should also play close attention to the physical elements of the home. Understanding the expected life expectancy of the various aspects of the house will help you make an informed decision and save you from unexpected expenses down the line.
When I am helping a client find a home, there are a few areas I look at right away to determine if they are in decent condition. Before I even step foot in the home, I like to look at the seller’s disclosure notice. This will inform me of any known past or present issues with the home. If there is anything of note, I will make sure to take a closer look when I get to the home. The seller’s disclosure sometimes includes the age of the roof. Oftentimes, the current owner may not know the age so, the first thing I do when I get to the home is take a look at the roof. Rarely can I fully view the roof from the ground, but I can see if there are tree limbs that may be damaging it. Sometimes, I can visibly see the roof is in poor condition.
Next, I enter the home. One of the most-costly home issues is a home with a poor foundation. If the foundation is not performing as designed, the entire home can have various issues. I am not an inspector, nor a foundation expert. However, I do know of some tell-tale signs of foundation issues. Uneven cracks in walls, a floor that feels un-level, cracks in the exterior of the home are all signs of foundation issues. These characteristics could also be entirely unrelated to a foundation problem. A floor may simply be uneven due to a poor sub-flooring job. But, If I suspect foundation issues, I will let my clients know. This way, they can then make an informed decision if they want to still pursue the house, and then hire an inspector and foundation expert to give their professional opinion.
In Texas, a good AC system is important. I want to take a look at the system right away, and see if I can ascertain more information about the home’s HVAC. Simple things like dirty filters can tell you if a person takes care of their system or not. I also like to look at the condenser unit and see if I can find a serial number. The serial number of most appliances is coded to tell you the age of the appliance. A simple google search will usually help me decipher the code for any given manufacturer and consequently the product’s age.
As I mentioned before, I am not a home inspector. However, if I can identify a potential major money pit simply from walking through a home, I’m going to make sure my clients know. This way, my clients don’t end up getting their hopes up about the home, spending money on an inspection and then realizing the home is going to be too problematic in the long run. When you’re looking for a new home, make sure to keep an eye out for more than just a gorgeous master with his and hers closets. Also, look at these important elements of a home to make sure you are not moving into a money pit. If you’re considering buying in the Austin area, contact me today, or take a look at these homes for sale in Austin.
This popular Texas town is where many adventurous souls come to have a good time. And, with so many documented accounts of paranormal activity, it’s no wonder that one of the favorite pastimes of residents and visitors alike is investigating the city’s most legendary haunted places.
12. The Inn at Pearl Street
Built in 1896, the Inn at Pearl Street, was once the private residence of Judge Charles A. Wilcox and his family. Almost a century later, after years of neglect, the home was purchased by new owners who restored it to its former glory and opened a boutique hotel commonly known by locals and repeat guests as “The Pearl.” What the new owners did not anticipate was the presence of a couple of friendly spirits. Reports soon surfaced of strange noises, including disembodied footsteps and music, as well as an apparition of a woman floating in the halls to a chair where she rocks her twin boys to sleep.
11. Austin Tavern
This tavern, believed to have once been a sporting house, is said to be haunted by a young prostitute named Emily who was killed here along with her daughter in the 1940s. Reports include people being tapped, pinched and feeling as they are being watched by something unseen. Other reports include seeing hazy apparitions, feeling cold spots, and hearing the sound of footsteps and a phantom pool game.
10. Metz Elementary School
When this century-old schoolhouse was demolished and replaced with a more modern building in 1990, the demolition process did not go smoothly. Many of the heavy machinery operators reported that their machines would unexpectedly and inexplicably turn off during operation. There were also several reports of workers falling from ladders and tools that went missing during the rebuilding process.
Frightened workers at the site demanded an exorcism be performed after several within their ranks reported seeing children's writing mysteriously appear on classroom chalkboards and the appearance of ghostly children in the old building's restrooms.
9. The Omni Downtown
The Omni Downtown is a hotel that offers a pleasant and restful experience for most people traveling through the city of Austin. However, for some unfortunate individuals, it offers up something much more sinister—encounters with the ghost of a man named Jack who committed suicide by jumping off the balcony while staying at the hotel. Numerous guests and employees of the hotel have reported hearing his ghost moving around in the vacant room.
8. The Texas Governor's Mansion
One would anticipate that there would be countless stories attached to the Texas Governor’s Mansion, which dates back to the 1850s. What one might not expect is that these stories would include hauntings by former guests and residents of the mansion.
Two of the most notorious ghosts of the mansion were both former governors. Numerous people over the years claim to have seen the ghost of Sam Houston, whose ghostly figure is said to linger in the bedroom he once occupied while governor. The ghost of Pendleton Murrah, also a former governor, has also reportedly appeared inside the mansion and on the grounds.
The mansion’s most famous ghost story, however, is the tragic account of a young man in his teens who was courting Murrah’s niece. When the girl rejected his marriage proposal, the young man killed himself in his guest room in the mansion. Since his death, there have been frequent reports of paranormal activity in that room. People living in or visiting the mansion cite the room as a constant source of unpleasant noises, including moaning and the sound of someone gasping for breath.
7. Oakwood Cemetery
When looking for haunted spots, no ghost tour or paranormal investigation would be complete without including a cemetery. Established in 1839, the Oakwood Cemetery in Austin spans 40 acres and is the final resting place for more than 23,000 souls. Many people travel here with the hopes of seeing the ghost of General Sam Houston who is buried at the cemetery. Some have captured pictures of orbs at his grave and other graves in the cemetery.
6. The Texas Capitol
The Texas Capitol has had its share of people going in and out of the building since it was first built. Today, visitors and people who work in the Capitol are not the only souls to be found in the building, which is said to be haunted by a number of people. Some witnesses claim to have seen the ghost of Robert Marshall Love, who was killed in the building while sitting at his desk. Others report an apparition of a lady in red on the third floor who is said to visit a stairwell hoping to have a rendezvous with a man. Many people have also reporting seeing former Governor Edmund Jackson Davis stare at people from the first floor window until they move out of his line of sight.
5. The Walter Tips House
Built in 1876, this stately residence was home first to Walter Tips and his family, then later Theo P. Meyer, both successful businessmen in their own right. The house, which was moved to its current location for restoration purposes and now functions as a bank, is regarded by many as one of the top haunted sites in Texas.
The ghosts or spirits that reportedly haunt the house today seem to be very angry. It is said that when people approach the house, they get the distinct impression they are not wanted there.
4. St. Edward's University
St. Edward’s University, a center for higher learning that has educated many students over the years, has a history of spooky happenings and there are claims it is home to as many as three ghosts.
The ghost of a young man who committed suicide by hanging is said to reside in the Mary Moody Northern Theater. Witnesses report seeing his ghostly body hanging from where he perished and, despite not seeing the rope, many have heard the sounds of it creaking as it swung back and forth.
Premont Hall is said to be haunted by a former resident advisor who died in the showers. The slamming of doors and windows is one way this ghost makes his presence known. The unhappy ghost is also said to turn all the showers on simultaneously. The final ghost, found in Doyle Hall, appears to be that of a nun who also enjoys turning on the showers in the building.
3. The Driskill Hotel
Colonel Jesse Driskill built the now historic Driskill hotel in 1886. From the outside, the famous hotel is an amazing piece of architecture that has welcomed thousands of people through its doors during its 100- plus years. However, some of the people that stayed at the hotel never left, according to reports.
Feeling as though someone has brushed up against you is a common occurrence at the Driskill. There are those who state Driskill himself roams the hallways of his hotel, and occasionally employees and guests can smell the scent of his favorite cigars. A little girl also haunts the stairs and other common areas of the hotel and can often spotted holding flowers. But one of the creepiest locations in the hotel is Room 525. According to reports, two different brides committed suicide in the room, 20 years apart. The presence of the women is often felt in the unhappy room.
2. Shoal Creek Indian Massacre Site
When Gideon White decided to build a home in close proximity to Shoal Creek, many people told him it was not a good idea. Ignoring their advice, he built his log cabin in 1839.
Things were fine for roughly three years when, according to reports, White was killed by some Native Americans. People who have visited the area since his death have discovered many graves, including White’s and those of many people who died from yellow fever, cholera, and other tragedies.
With so many bodies buried in the location, it is not unusual to feel cold spots, hear strange noises, or see apparitions. Because of the high amount of paranormal activity in the area, people are not permitted to visit the creek after 10 p.m.
1. Littlefield House
Built in 1894, this beautiful, yet creepy looking home was where Major George Washington Littlefield and his wife lived without any children until they both died. Upon his wife’s death, the home was bequeathed to the University of Texas at Austin.
The house remains in the same location near the campus grounds and the university often uses the first floor of the building as a site for university events. The staff who work in the building say you can see Alice’s ghost roaming around the grounds and in the house, and some say you can hear Alice playing the piano at all hours of the night.
This wonderful list of Austin’s haunted spots was thoughtfully crafted by my friends at First American Title.
The Austin Board of REALTORS® just released the September 2018 Austin Market Report. According to the report, September data shows a stall in home sales growth. Regardless, median home sales prices continue to rise for both the City of Austin and the Greater Austin area.
The home sales volume stall that the board report magnifies as its report title is quite slight. Compared to September 2017, there were 22 fewer single family home sales in the Austin – Round Rock MSA this past month. Within the City of Austin, home sales decreased from 708 last year to 702 home sales in September of 2018. This is hardly a drastic change in the market. According to Lawrence Yun, chief economist and senior vice president of research at the National Association of REALTORS®, the flat sales growth in the Austin area could be due to rising interest rates. This is a valid argument; interest rates have rose about three quarters of a percent since last year. However, there are many other factors that could be at play here, such as the lack of housing available and the increasing rise in the median sales price.
In the greater Austin Area, the median home sales price increased to $302,250 last month. This is almost eleven grand more than the median home sales price of September 2017. Within the city limits, the median sales home price increased to $365,000. The combination of increased prices and higher interest rates leads to less purchasing power for home buyers.
The average days on market (ADOM) for homes in the greater Austin area and homes within the city limits has not changed much since last year. Homes within the City of Austin spent a few less days on the market this year compared to last year. This month, City of Austin homes had an ADOM of 38 compared to 42 days last September. In the greater Austin Area, the ADOM was 53 days. The exact same figure as September of 2017.
If you’re interested in learning more about the exact market conditions in your neighborhood, contact me today. I’d be happy to prepare a specified report for your area.
Erika Rae Albert
Sharing my Austin real estate updates, home owner tips, & more.