Austin's Changing Skyline--Downtown Development in ATX

Austin skyline by 2020.JPG

Austin continues to boom. Business Insider says Austin had the second highest rate of job growth among the 40 largest metro areas in America, with employment rising 3.7 percent between February 2017 and February 2018. The most visible representation of our rapid economic development is our ever changing downtown skyline. Just think about this: of the 8 tallest buildings in downtown Austin today, not a single one of them existed 10 years ago!

According to the Austin Downtown Alliance, downtown will grow by 50 percent if it only completes projects currently under construction and those proposed for redevelopment. However, downtown Austin has the potential to double in size if it reaches its full build out potential in the next 5 years.

Below is just a glimpse of the developments that are shaping or will continue to shape the Austin skyline…

  1. 6th X Guadalupe St—when completed this will be the tallest building in Austin. 837 feet high & 66 stories of apartments and offices stacked atop each other. An acre of parks in the sky are in the plans for this skyscraper.

  2. The Independent— luxury high rise condominiums and currently Austin's tallest building, taking the title away from The Austonian, which laid claim to the tallest building in Austin for about eight years.

  3. The Republic at 401 W Fourth St, just south of Republic Square Park, will have 711,401 square feet of office and 21,463 square feet of retail.

  4. 70 Rainey—a 34-story skyscraper with 164 condos that tower over Rainey Street.

  5. 48 East Ave—a 33-story, 215 condo tower also located in the Rainey Street Historic District.

  6. Waller Park Place—more than 3 million square feet of residential, commercial and office space at Red River and East Cesar Chavez streets. This will be a big property—roughly the size of six Frost Bank Towers!

  7. Block 71—Indeed Inc. will lease the top 10 floors of this office tower under construction at the intersection of Sixth Street and Colorado Avenue.

  8. 5th & West—154 luxury condos that stand 37-stories tall.

  9. The Austin Proper Hotel—a 32-story luxury hotel and residential combo.

  10. Third + Shoal — an office tower near The Independent, the new library and Google’s tower — with tenants such as Facebook and Bank of America.

  11. 300 Colorado Office— at Colorado and Third Street will be redeveloped into a 32-story office tower with about 390,000 square feet of space.  Fourteen of the building’s 32 floors will be dedicated to parking. 

  12. ZaZa Tower—This 24-story tower on West Fourth Street near Lavaca Street will offer more than 200 apartments and more than 150 rooms at Hotel ZaZa. Retail stores will line the bottom of the building.

  13. Genesis Real Estate plans to build a 50-story apartment tower in the Rainey Street area on the site of the vacant Villas on Town Lake condos.

  14. Block 185— Google has leased the entire building. set to start construction in 2019. This building will take on a sail-like shape due to its proximity to Lady Bird Lake and Shoal Creek.

  15. 93 Red River—347 Units; 40 stories of Multifamily, Office & Retail including five levels of underground parking and seven levels of above ground parking.

  16. 405 Colorado—a 197,056 SF building with 12 stories of parking with 12 levels of office space on top.

How do you feel about Austin’s dynamic skyline and economic boom? Like it our not, our city is currently one of the most rapidly changing metro areas in the country, so we need to be prepared to flex and change with it, especially in the real estate sector.

Apple's Big Announcement and Its Impact on Austin

In early December, while all eyes were on Amazon’s HQ2 announcement, Apple made an important one of its own:  the decision to invest $1 billion in a new 133-acre Austin campus that will increase Apple to upwards of 15,000 employees in the coming years. With the completion of this campus, Apple will surpass other well-known names such as H-E-B and Dell to earn the title as the largest private employer in the city of Austin.

The Apple campus will be located right next to its counterpart just over the county line in Williamson County, placing it 12 miles from the city center. It will bring in a good mix of middle to upper range jobs in technology, research and customer call centers. In addition to catapulting Austin into the big leagues as a technology center, the incoming Apple campus will impact all sectors of life, such as housing, restaurants, traffic, and retail marketplaces.  Some estimate that the overall impact of the new Apple campus could result in over 30,000 new jobs across all sectors of real estate, construction, and the marketplace in Austin. 

What impact will this swell of jobs have on the Austin housing market? Prices will continue to rise if more supply is not created to meet these additional demands. As housing prices in the urban core of Austin continue to escalate, look for more incoming Apple employees to search for homes in the Round Rock, Pflugerville, and Hutto areas because of their close accessibility to the Robinson Ranch area (where Apple is located) via SH 45. Other communities that will likely see further development are Liberty Hill and Leader as I-35 will also become a main thoroughfare for Apple employees.

What might the arrival of Apple mean for your housing sale or purchase? If you are shopping in the housing market right now, the answer is simple.  The sooner you can buy, the better.  Competition and prices are only looking to increase. However, if you own a home in North Austin, you might want to hold onto it for a couple more years.  That is, if you can afford its increasing property taxes!

The addition of the new Apple campus will only contribute to Austin’s reputation as a knowledge and talent center and will continue to draw more people from the West Coast who are looking for solid tech jobs in more affordable housing markets.  However, the infrastructure will have to work hard to keep up with the demands of this brand new influx of people to make this a win for all Austinites.

Property Taxes...Should I Escrow or Not?

Many first time homeowners have questions about taxes + insurance and how they will impact a monthly mortgage payment. When you set up your mortgage, you may have some choices in regards to how often you pay toward your property taxes and insurance, but first it’s important to see what category you fit in to better understand your options:

Category One: If you are putting less than 20% down on your home OR if you have an FHA loan, you will likely be required to set up an escrow account with your lender. An escrow account is part of your loan paperwork and agreed upon at closing. Each month, your lender collects the required insurance and tax payments from you along with your mortgage amount. The money then gets held in an escrow account and used to pay off the insurance and property taxes either annually or semi-annually, whenever they are due. The lender takes care of these payments for you out of your escrow account and pays directly into the insurance company and county tax office for you. While these payments are collected at the same time as your monthly mortgage payment, they are technically separate. The convenience of an escrow account is that it forces you to save for these big annual or semi-annual bills every month along the way. However, many times the lender does not grant any interest on the money sitting in an escrow account whereas if it were sitting in your own private account, the same money could have some interest earning potential.

Category Two: If you are putting more than 20% down on your home or have your home paid off, you have some different options when it comes to property taxes and insurance. Instead of setting up a required escrow account, you can accumulate the money you need for insurances and taxes on your own, earning interest on that money all the way up until the time it is due. When the bill comes, you are in charge of paying the taxes directly to your county tax collector and the insurance payment directly to your insurance company. In Austin, the tax bill always arrives around Christmas and is due at the end of January. The disadvantage to this method is that it requires discipline to make monthly payments to yourself in your savings account and earmark that money for insurance and taxes. You do not want to be surprised by a hefty annual bill (right at Christmastime) and have no accumulated savings to pay it. However, avoiding escrow does ensure that your mortgage payments are consistent from month to month throughout the year. If you have an escrow account and your property tax bill or your insurance premiums suddenly jump, you might not be made aware of the change until the end of the year when you see the breakdown from the lending company.

Whatever your decision when it comes to paying insurance and property taxes, it is important to discuss your options with your realtor and financial lender to make the most financially sound decision for you!

2015-2018 ATX Urban Core Growth Trends

The final 2018 numbers are in, and the data confirms that the Austin real estate market continues to be on the rise in the urban core.

When comparing the numbers from 2017 to 2018, the median price, median price per square foot, overall dollar transactions in the urban core, highest price per square foot, and highest overall price all increased from 2017 to 2018. For example, the median price of a home in the urban core in 2017 was $434,000; in 2018, that same number increased to $450,000. The median price per square foot back in 2015 was $273.38. That number has increased almost $50 per square foot over the past 4 years, resulting in a median price per square foot in 2018 of $320.64.

Will prices continue to be on the rise for 2019? With Apple’s company announcement and the arrival of a major league soccer team in ATX, expansion and growth do not seem to be slowing down anytime in the real estate market of Austin, TX. Check out my urban core trends and market analysis below! For more market statistics and analysis in the downtown area specifically, click here!

Urban Core Stats 2015-2018.png

Are you considering purchasing a property in the urban core of Austin? Jump in now before prices continue to rise! Contact me today to help you find the home of your dreams!

10 Ways to Prepare Your Home BEFORE It's Listed

“It’s time to sell.”   These few words can be quite an emotional decision for many homeowners. Sometimes we can be in denial that we are actually moving out of our home or that our lives are going to change.  However, before the “For Sale” sign ever goes in the front yard, the preparation for selling needs to start on the inside of YOU and on the inside of the house. 

Although you love your house and have worked hard to get it exactly “this way,” other buyers may not have your same style preferences or affiliations.  When you are preparing your home to put it on the market, you have to take a more neutral approach and ask yourself, “Would this room appeal to most home buyers?”  “Would most buyers like this paint color or these decorations?” 

Often times it is hard to have such an unbiased approach to our own homes.  If that is the case, I would recommend a third party friend, realtor or stager come into your home and give you advice.  However, this comes with a warning: put on your adult pants and prepare yourself.  Because that mural you slaved on for hours in your baby’s room probably has to go.  And the curtains you love so much, and the bright neon green contrast wall you thought would look great in the game room might have to go as well.  However, if you can accept advice from a neutral third party and follow it, you will have much more success in preparing your home to be listed on the market. 


Below are 10 suggestions of my suggestions for you to consider as you prepare your home to sell:

1.     Paint- Most buyers prefer neutral paint colors throughout the house.

2.     Furniture-Only leave enough furniture in the room to make the room functional.  However, when in doubt, leave the area empty without furniture and open up more room for walking paths. Empty space makes the room feel bigger and gives the buyer vision for how they could use the space.

3.     One-Function Rooms- If you have a multi-purpose room such as an guest room/playroom  or a guest room/office, it is better to choose one function and to decorate the room according to that function.  For example, if you have a combination office/guestroom, remove the bed and just dress the room up as an office for showing.  You want to be as clear as possible when casting vision for a space.

4.     Pictures- All personalized pictures, artwork, and drawings need to come off the wall.  You are moving anyway;  just start packing up early.  When these personalized items are left up on the walls, buyers feel like guests in your home rather than people who are themselves in the space.

5.     Sports/School Paraphernalia- Just because the whole block knows you are an Aggie fan doesn’t mean your UT alumni buyer needs to know it too.  Like it or not, school and sports teams’ paraphernalia hanging on the walls can have a negative psychological effect on people who would root for a different team or graduated from a different school.  Again, it makes buyers feel like guests in your house and does not help them see themselves as potential owners of the home.

6.     Holiday Decorations-Try to tame down the holiday decorations as much as possible as you prepare to list your house.  After all, your buyer may not celebrate the same holiday or may not celebrate it in the same way as you.  Your goal is to create a space in which the buyer can envision celebrating his/her next holiday, and that is hard to do if they are in a space that has decorations that are foreign to them.  If you have to decorate for a holiday, try to keep your decorations as neutral and widely appealing as possible.  Also, I recommend that you store/stack presents in a secure location and do not leave them under a tree or within view of those taking tours of your home during the winter holidays.

7.     Jewelry/Medicines- Aside from being a theft risk, leaving jewelry or medicines out is exceptionally personal.  Again, it makes buyers feel like they are invading your space, and it limits their ability to envision making it their own.

8.     Closets- Open up your spaces as much as possible.  Why?  Because storage space sells, but only if the buyer can SEE it.  If needed, rent an outside storage unit to store furniture, art, and other boxes/containers.  Storage space is a huge asset in selling a house unless it is clear by looking into the closet that the home owner is out of room. A cramped storage space will make a potential buyer concerned about the space, not excited about the space.

9.     Clean the Exterior of Your Home-Many sellers think through the inside of their home but completely forget to consider what the outside looks like.  Curb appeal IS your first impression.  Are you making a good one?  Are their cobwebs around your front porch or pavers missing on the foot path up to your door?  Power wash your sidewalk and driveway, wash your windows, clean out your gutters, wipe down your front door, sweep your porch, and put a fresh door mat out. These ideas can go a long way in tidying up the street appeal of your home.

10.  Repairs-Have a sqeaky door that you have never bothered to fix?  Is one of the kitchen cabinets missing a pull?  Do you have a light fixture that needs to be updated? Some repairs are simple and small, but yield big returns on the sell of a home.  Have a neutral party walk through your house and use some of the items in the house.  Sometimes we are so accustomed to the problem areas of our home that we don’t see them anymore.  With help from a friend, make a list of simple/quick fixes you can do before listing your home on the market.


Remember, once you decide to sell your home, you have already begun the moving process.  Your goal now is to create a vision casting space for every buyer that walks through the home you are listing for sale.  If the buyer can not envision their own needs being met in the house, it will not sell.  So, take pictures of all your favorite corner nooks and cozy artwork, and then clean them all out, and get ready to maximize the sell of your home!