Are you looking for some fun and festive holiday activities to enjoy this year? We've got you covered! From ice skating to light shows, our list has something for everyone to enjoy. Happy Holidays!
Trail of Lights: If there’s one event that makes you think of Christmas in the ATX, it’s the Trail of Lights. This year it’s drive through only due to covid restrictions, but you can still experience the glory of over two million lights from the comfort of your car. Drive through the glowing tunnels and sing along to classic holiday hits. Don’t miss out on the 57th annual Trail of Lights, it’s an amazing family event that will leave everyone in awe. PS. the Zilker Tree is open for pedestrians, so you can still spin to your heart's content!
Rooftop Rink at Whole Foods: Bundle up and hit the ice on top of the world! This is perfect for a family outing, girls night out, or even a sweethearts date night out on the town. This event takes place on the rooftop of the WholeFoods flagship store. Beverages and treats are also available to make the experience that much more great!
Santa’s Ranch: Looking for a little road trip to experience some holiday cheer? Head down to New Braunfels and check out Santa’s Ranch. Here you can sip and snack on some homemade holiday treats while you drive through the gorgeous roads and experience a Christmas sight like no other. This light exhibit stretches over a mile long! Don’t forget to grab some beautiful souvenirs to take home before you leave.
Ballet Austin’s: The Nutcracker: We all know the tale of The Nutcracker and the beautiful melody of “the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies” and this year, you can experience all of the magic LIVE at Ballet Austin! You absolutely have to see these sets and costumes in person. You are sure to be in for a breathtaking performance.
North Pole Flyer: Have you ever wished you could hop aboard the Polar Express? Well, this rail may not be headed to the North Pole, but you can let your imagination wander as you enjoy this 2 hour ride with snacks, holiday drinks, and visits from special guests like Santa and Mrs. Claus. There will be Christmas carols as well as story time and lots of laughs. If you’re looking for an exciting holiday event for a little one in your life, this is it.
Ice Skating at Dreamland: Sip on some hot cocoa and enjoy the holiday fun with all of your loved ones while ice skating at Dreamland. There is also mini-golf and pickle ball if you aren’t the best ice skater, but who cares? Get up and make a fool of yourself and let your inner child come out to play.
Armadillo Christmas Bazaar: From December 17th-19th, you can experience live music, local art, shopping from local businesses, and a bar! Honestly, What more could you ask for? This is a guaranteed great holiday experience for the entire family, or a date night out.
Mozart’s Light Show: The annual light show at Mozart’s coffee roasters is an event not to be missed. Where else can watch a legendary Christmas light display reflecting off Lake Austin? Mozart’s Light Show also has a wide variety of snacks and beverages available to enjoy while you view the spectacle. This year, they’re offering a hybrid format where you can either reserve a table for a small fee or get a complimentary ticket for the standing section. Unfortunately, tables for the show dates before x-mas are sold out, but there are tables available between Christmas and New Years. Additionally, there are plenty of tickets left for the standing section.
It’s always a good idea to get a home inspection before you purchase a home. While home inspections are not all encompassing, they will illuminate areas of concern within a property. An inspector will carefully assess all major components of a home, and highlight areas in need of repair in a detailed report. Truth be told, at first glance, almost all inspection reports appear scary. An inspector points out every defect, area of potential concern, and potential pitiful with a given home. Many of these deficiencies are not something to be worried about, but a few items may haunt you forever if you decide to move forward with the purchase.
Here in central Texas, it is not uncommon to see homes with foundation issues. I still remember a home I showed many years ago in East Austin that I nicknamed “The Topsy-Turvy” house. Walking through it made me feel like I was in one of those carnival attractions with disorienting mirrors everywhere. Foundation settling is normal, but when a home has significantly differential elevations in can be a major issue. Foundation repairs are expensive, oftentimes requiring a low five figure to repair. But, that’s not the only thing. When you repair the foundation, you will likely have to fix everything above it too. Tiled floors crack, drywall will need to be replaced, cabinets and molding may shift. You get the idea. A foundation issue is something that could haunt you for years.
Roofs generally last a few decades. Obviously that depends on the type of roof and how well it is maintained, but something that is supposed to last for that long comes with a high ticket price. If a roof is in substantial disrepair, it can be a major source of concern. There may be water damage in the interior of the home, and with water damage comes potential for a slew of other concerns. Pests, mold, and termites all are more likely when they have a life source. A roof replacement is something you may be able to negotiate being covered by the seller’s home owner’s insurance policy, but even if you are able to negotiate a new roof make sure the faulty room didn’t already cause other issues.
Antiquated Electrical Systems
Old wiring in a home can be a true horror if not properly corrected. Homes built prior to the 1940s have what’s known as knob and tube wiring. Knob and tube wiring only has a hot wire and a neutral wire. There is no neutral wire, and connections were not made in junction boxes. These are all potential fire risks. Aluminum wiring was widely used throughout the 60s and 70s and is common in many Austin homes. It poses its own fire risk with aluminum to other metal connections creating electrical resistance making the wiring hotter when in use. With hourly rates for most electricians starting in the hundreds, you can see how repairing these issues can quickly add up to a major drain on your pocketbook.
Ultimately, even the scariest of items identified during an inspection may not be reason to walk-away from a home purchase. However, it’s important you understand these risks and comprehend the likely financial costs to fix the defects. A home with numerous problems can still be a good investment if you can purchase it for the right price.
For many years I have heard horror stories from clients in regards to home owner’s associations. Most frequently, it comes from individuals who are simply perplexed by the excessive fees such associations can charge for merely delivering required paperwork. When you purchase a property that is located in a community with a home owner’s association (HOA) you need an official copy of the HOA documents and a resale certificate. These documents tell you the rules for the community, what the HOA fees cover, the HOA’s financials, and if the seller is delinquent on any HOA dues. Obviously, all of these things are important documents to look over if you are planning to purchase in the community. However, the fees associations demand for such documents are sometimes downright highway robbery.
Passed earlier this year, Senate Bill 1588 helps mitigate these concerns. Effective September 1st, HOAs are barred from charging inordinate fees for subdivision information statements and resale certificates. The bill placed a cap of $375 on the cost for subdivision information statements, and limited HOAs to charging a max of $75 for a resale certificate. This is a huge win, as I have seen HOAs charging thousands for these simple documents in the past.
In addition to setting caps on the amount HOAs can charge for these resale documents, the legislation also included a few other safeguards aimed at protecting Texans. The bill does the following:
While these changes are certainly appreciated among industry professionals and consumers, the new legislation has one major pitfall. This legislation is wonderful for those residing in or purchasing a home in a community with a property owner’s association, but it does not protect anyone who lives in a condo association. With the increasing costs of land in central Texas, more and more builders are creating single family homes that live and act like a house, but are technically condos. These homeowners as well as traditional condo owners are still susceptible to exorbitant charges from condo associations.
Do you have questions about buying or selling in an area with a home owner’s association in the greater Austin area? Contact me today.
When is the right time to sip on some wine and beer? The correct answer is ALL THE TIME! Hey, It’s 5:00 somewhere, right?
Austin is full of amazing and unique wineries and breweries. You can spend forever exploring the many options that we have in an around Austin. I’ve gathered some of my favorite spots to visit when I need a good sip. Hopefully you’ve had the pleasure of enjoying a few of these spots as well. If not, what are you waiting for?
Wimberley Valley Winery: Don't let the name fool you, this winery is located in Driftwood. Wimberley Valley Winery offers a diverse food and wine menu. For $18, you can experience their tasting which includes sampling five delicious selections. They also have a wine club that you can join which offers special perks for you to enjoy with your friends. The food menu offers everything from pizza to burgers and even tots. Yum! Get the girls together or bring your boys to this little slice of heaven.
Jester King Brewery: Just west of town on over 160 acres, this local favorite has plenty of space to offer more than just a refreshing beverage. In addition to serving up cold brews, they also have an inn where you can spend the night, an event center, a farm, and restaurant. Jester King prides itself on using mostly all of their own farm grown ingredients. If you visit and end up falling in love with this place, you’re in luck! Because they host many weddings and large events here. I told you, its a beautiful place. Don’t take my word for it though, go visit for yourself.
The Austin Winery: Located in an industrial section of South Austin, this urban winery offers an adorable atmosphere to sit and sip on some delicious wines. Maybe you’re a red drinker, or maybe you’re more of a white wine person. Whatever your choice, There is surely something for you here. The tasting room serves 3 half glass pours of your choice of wine, and the staff gives you a rundown of what you’ll be tasting. They also offer snack trays to feed your appetite.
St. Elmos Brewery: Adjacent to the Austin Winery, St. Elmos offers unique beer options from Pineapple Pale Ale to Hop Water and so much more. They have a large outdoor space where you will also find their delicious food truck, Spicy Boys. Here you can enjoy mouth watering chicken sandwiches, nugs, curry, and more. Drop by and get your drink on while you chow down!
Austin Beerworks: Located in North Austin, this brewery offers a large variety of delicious beers such as Bloodwork Orange and Megaflora. Locals know the “A” logo and the vibrant colored cans. Austin Beerworks has a very low gluten count in their beers also, which makes for a great option if you have a gluten intolerance. There is also some great food to be enjoyed while you chug down your beer. Head on over to this colorful brewery today. You won’t be sorry!
Dutchman Family Winery: Known for their saying “100% Texas grapes, 100% Texas wine”, Dutchman Family Winery is also located in Driftwood. Shaded by large beautiful trees and embellished with gorgeous chandeliers, the aesthetic alone is a great reason to take a visit to Dutchman. They regularly feature live music and host events such as painting and movie nights. You can also become a member of their wine club and try all of the exquisite wines that your body can handle.
The Austin Beer Garden Brewery: Known as The ABGB to locals, this South Austin brewery offers a great mix of beers, wines, and ciders. You’ll find a drink to satisfy everyone of your friends. They also offer live music of all genres, and food that will make your taste buds so happy! Their food menu has pizza, sandwiches, salads, desserts, and more. Sip on some award winning beers while you dance to the live music and chow down on some food from their large menu.
Meanwhile Brewing: Located in South Austin, Meanwhile Brewing offers an experience for more than just your average beer drinker. You can also find coffees, wine, cocktails, and plenty of food trucks. This brewery often hosts live music to enjoy too. There is also a private event venue and soccer field. Sounds pretty cool, right? Well, Get your ass over there and let your fun side come out to play!
Have you been to any of these fantastic places? What are some of your favorite spots?
Slowly but surely, the 2020 US Census data from 2020 is being released. Although these stats are not perfect, they were obtained during the pandemic after all, they do give us some insights as to what’s happening in the ATX. There weren’t too many surprises, spoiler alert: the greater Austin area is growing rapidly in case you hadn’t noticed. But, the official count for the City of Austin population did fall slightly shorter than expected with an estimated 961,855 people residing in the capital of the lone star state. Officially, this makes Austin the 11th most populous city in the United States.
While the population for residents within the city limits has increased slightly over 20% over the past ten years, many of you may be thinking “that’s it”. I know, that number feels low to me too, and the truth is, the population of Austin as we know it is about way more than just those living in the city limits. Residents of Sunset Valley, Westlake Hills, Pfluggerville, Leander and many other adjacent areas make up what we think of as Austinites. According to the latest census stats the Austin-Round Rock metro area is the fastest growing metro area in Texas.
At the county level, we saw significant increases in population levels throughout Central Texas. Hays County which encompasses Dripping Springs, Buda, Kyle, San Marcos and Kimberly was the fastest growing county in the state. Since 2010, Hays saw more than a 50% increase in residents over the past ten years with the population now nearly a quarter of a million people. In Travis County, the census showed a population of 1,290,188 people for 2020 and Williamson County is home to over 600,000 people. Together, these stats show what everyone who’s ever sat in traffic on I-35 knows is true - there are way more than one million Austinites.
For months on end, it's seemed as if there was no end in sight for the incredibly competitive Austin real estate market. In fact, just looking at the latest numbers it still appears that way. Last month, the greater Austin area saw an all-time high median sales price of $482,364; Simultaneously 4,369 homes were sold, a record number of home sales compared to any previous June numbers.
Yet, these numbers don't show the full picture. Real estate stats are always lagging indicators. In general, it usually takes at least 30 days for a home to go from hitting the market to sold. Thus, the sales data for June is based on homes that hit the market in May. In the past month, we have started to see an increase in listings. It's not crazy, but it is impactful. In the City of Austin, we saw 2,044 new residential listings in June compared to 1,724 in May.
An increase in supply is good news for prospective home buyers. This means more homes to choose from, and less competition. This subtle increase is exciting; yet we are still very far from a balanced market. You can still expect to see multiple offers. However, you may only be competing with a handful of other buyers compared to the double digit number of offers we frequently saw on homes over the past 6 months. As you might expect, the premium paid over ask price is simultaneously beginning to decrease.
All of these indicators show that pricing is starting to stabilize but that doesn't mean home prices are going down. Home prices are likely to continue to stay at these elevated levels. That being said, I do foresee a return to the normal cyclical pattern for real estate sales in the Austin metro area. Over the past year, there was no normal slow down for the winter. In fact, the median sales price in the MSA stayed the same or increased month after month. In the future, I see a return of spring being the peak selling season- when buyers can expect the most inventory and sellers can expect to sell for the highest price.
That being said, here are the latest Austin area market stats:
City of Austin:
Compared to June of 2020
Greater Austin Area (AKA Austin Round Rock MSA):
Compared to June of 2020
Curious to know what's happening in your specific neighborhood? Contact me with any questions you may have. I’d love to hear from you!
The Difference Between a Home’s Appraised Value, Assessed Value, and Market Value
There are quite a few different ways to determine a property’s value. As a real estate broker, I most often determine a fair asking price or listing price based on the relevant comparable sales. Other entities such as the county tax assessor may also use the sales comparison approach to determine a given home’s value; yet, our valuations may be vastly different. That’s because the different types of valuations are ultimately defined by the entity evaluating the property’s worth.
Appraised value is a term used to describe the lender’s valuation of a given property. When you buy a home with a loan, the lender needs to determine what the value of the home is in order to limit their risk. The lender orders an appraisal of the subject property once a buyer is under-contract on a property, but before the closing date. The appraiser then compiles a report known as an appraisal. The report is most commonly performed using the sales comparison approach in which the appraiser identifies three to six similar properties that have sold recently in the area, and then makes adjustments to these properties in order to determine the subject property’s appraised value. Occasionally, the appraiser may use a different approach such as the cost approach or the income approach to determine the appraised value. The cost approach uses current construction costs combined with depreciation to determine the appraised value while the income approach uses rental revenue to determine the appraised value. The sales comparison approach is most-commonly used in residential real estate, and if you are purchasing a new home or refinancing an existing one, the end result of this analysis is a determination of appraised value. Ultimately, the appraised value is what the lender determines your home is worth.
The assessed value of a home is what a county tax assessor determines a home is worth for the purpose of levying property taxes. Oftentimes, I will have buyers looking at a home’s assessed value as an indication of a fair asking price. However, the assessed value is rarely the same as the market value. The assessed value is determined annually by the county and market value can change weekly. Additionally, the assessed value is usually determined from a computer. Looking at similar size homes on the same street only tells half the picture. Just because your neighbor’s home is worth $600K doesn’t mean yours is too. What if your neighbor’s home has solid gold toilets and italian marble while you're still rocking lime green linoleum? The county tax assessor likely has no idea that your home isn’t worth as much as your neighbor’s. Unless you say something and step up to protest your assessed value, the county will continue to value your home at the rate they think is correct. Texas is also a non-disclosure state which means that home sale values are not public information. They do rely on information gathered from real estate syndication sites like Zillow to determine the asking price for a home. They also know when a home is sold, they just don’t necessarily know the exact sales price. Thus, the assessed value is the county tax assessor’s best guess as to what your home is worth.
The market value of a property is what a buyer is willing to pay for a property and a seller is willing to sell a property for in an open market. The market value of a property is oftentimes quite different from the assessed value, and may even be vastly different from the appraised value for a given property. Recently, in the Austin real estate market we have seen widespread waiving of appraisal contingencies by prospective buyers. When a buyer does this, they are saying that even if the lender determines the appraised value is lower than the contracted sales price they will proceed with the sale and bring additional cash to the table in order to close at the contracted price. Thus, the market value is higher than the appraised value. Alternatively, you could have a home that appraised for a value that is higher than what buyers are willing to pay. The market value is simply what a buyer is willing to pay for a given property.
When you are trying to determine an appropriate asking price to list your home for sale for or trying to figure out how much money you should offer on a home you need to think about all of these values. However, the market value is ultimately the value that will be the most important.
Thinking about buying a Short Term Rental in the Austin Area? Here's Your Complete Breakdown on the Rules and Regulations for Operating a Vacation Rental in Central Texas
Austin and the surrounding areas are booming right now and more and more people are coming to visit each day to get a little piece of this amazing city. Perhaps you are one of these people and you decided you like Austin so much you want to buy a home here that you can use from time to time and then rent out while you're not here. That's a great plan, but in order to make your dream a reality, you need a thorough understanding of the rules and regulations regarding short term rentals (STRs). They vary immensely throughout central Texas, and the success or legality of your investment property rests on understanding these various rules.
No matter where you are looking to purchase, it's important to understand that STRs are generally classified as rentals less than 30 days. If you are planning to rent your home out monthly or for even longer durations there are far less rules. If you are planning to use your property as a vacation rental where guests stay for a few days or weeks, this post is for you!
Texas leaves short term rental oversight to the local government. Thus, STR rules, regulations or ordinances are predominantly created by local municipalities. If a property is located in an unincorporated area or an extraterritorial jurisdiction, it's highly unlikely that there will be municipal regulations since there is no city that has the authority to regulate the area.
Within the city limits of Austin, the regulations regarding short term rentals are pretty strict. They have a comprehensive permitting process and caps on the number of short term rentals allowed. In fact, in the City of Austin, it's almost impossible to get a permit to operate a short term rental for a single family home if it's not your primary residence.
However, a plethora of nearby Austin suburbs have no STR rules at all, and there are unincorporated areas that aren't subject to any municipal oversight! Dive into the list below to know what the regulations are like throughout central Texas.
To obtain a permit to operate a bed & breakfast or vacation rental, an applicant must go through the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) process and receive an approved permit.
The CUP process includes:
*****We do our best to provide accurate information; however, these rules and regulations are constantly evolving. Make sure to confirm current rules with the local governing bodies. This post was last updated on 12/5/2022
Interested in purchasing a property to use as a short term rental in the Austin area?
We can help you navigate the various rules and regulations, identify options that will make the most sense for your unique situation and guide you in determining which properties will yield the highest returns.
Happy 4th of July weekend! Need some fun and exciting ideas to celebrate this year in the ATX? We've rounded up a view great options to check out if you don't already have plans for this holiday weekend.
Live Fireworks and a Movie at Doc’s Drive in Theater:
With FIREWORKS before the movie, live music, as well as a wide variety of food and drinks, Doc's Drive in is a great option for anyone looking to have a good time! They will have two simultaneous showings on both the 3rd and the 4th. You can catch The Sandlot on Screen 1 or Independence Day on Screen 2.
July 3rd and 4th
Live Music 7-9PM
Live Fireworks Show 9pm
1540 Satterwhite Road
Buda, TX 78610
Get more information and buy your tickets HERE
4th of July Blues, Brews, & BBQ with The Larry Harris Band:
No cover, all ages are welcome, and dog friendly. Celebrate the 4th of July with live music, BBQ food, and some refreshing draft beers at Oakwood BBQ & Beer Garden.
July 4th from 11AM-8PM
307 E. Braker Lane
Austin, TX 78753
Get more information HERE.
HEB Austin Symphony July 4th Concert and Fireworks:
Enjoy spectacular fireworks and some live music from the Austin Symphony at this free event.
Sunday, July 4th at 8:00 pm
900 W Riverside Drive
Austin, TX 78704
More information HERE.
Red, White, and Boom 4th of July Festival:
Visit Typhoon Texas for wild water rides, live music, contests, fireworks, and a hot air balloon ride.
July 2nd, 3rd and 4th 10:30 am - 7:00 pm
18500 Texas 130 Service Road
Pflugerville, TX 78660
Purchase tickets HERE.
May Real Estate Market Stats Show Austin Market Continues To Rise And Break Records
The greater Austin area continues to break records in the month of May. Austin saw an all time high for median home prices for any month on record. The recorded median single family home value for the entire greater Austin area last month topped the charts at a whopping $465,000.
We are at a challenging time currently. There is simply not enough land in Austin to meet buyer demand. As businesses come in, so do residents and this is causing single family home prices to sky rocket. Austin is now experiencing a critical shortage of inventory and we must think about new ways to expand and creative policies to increase our housing supply over the long run.
Residential home sales in the Austin Round-Rock MSA aka the entire greater Austin area have seen an increase of 48% year over year to 3,976 sales for the month of May. As you may imagine, the median sales price also jumped 42.2% year over year. That is a full $100k higher than in January of this year. Monthly housing inventory decreased 1.5 months to 0.5 months of inventory. This is critically low; a balanced market has 6 months of inventory.
In May, active listings dropped 70.9% year over year to 1,739 listings, this shows how quickly homes are going under contract. Homes spent an average of 16 days on market last month across the MSA. However, keep in mind this is an average. A lot of homes spent far fewer days on market.
Increases in Median Home Sales Price per County:
City of Austin - 34.9% year over year to $566,500
Travis County - 41% year over year to $550,000
Williamson County - 50% year over year to $435,000
Hays County - 42.5% year over year to $380,000
Bastrop County - 24% year over year to $321,250
Caldwell County - 26.9% year over year to $239,900
Curious to know what’s happening in your zip code? Contact me for more information!
Sharing Austin real estate updates, home owner tips, & more.