Austin

How Do Austin Schools Stack Up To Those In Surrounding Suburban Areas?

The Texas Report Card has come out for the 2017-2018 school year and the encouraging news is that Austin ISD has great schools in the urban core that stack up equally to those in the surrounding suburban areas. In fact, one of Austin’s top high schools racked up the honor of best public high school in Texas: Liberal Arts & Science Academy (LASA), a public magnet school located on the LBJ campus, earned the distinction from the neighborhood and school review site Niche.

Three other Austin-area high schools also cracked the state’s top 25 list: Westlake High School in the Eanes district ranked no. 5, Westwood High School in Round Rock’s district placed no. 8, and Vandegrift High School in Leander’s district landed at no. 14.

So how are the school’s measured, exactly? The Texas report card takes the following categories in mind when scoring its schools:

Overall Ranking: is a combined score after looking at the accountability rating of each school, data from the Texas Academic Performance Reports, and financial information.

Student Achievement: Students are assessed through the STAAR test in the Student Achievement Domain. Additionally, high schools are assessed on College, Career, and Military Readiness (CCMR) and Graduation Rates.

School Progress: Evaluates proficiency and growth as well as school progress through comparison of school districts with similar socioeconomic status. This domain is extremely important to campuses that are labeled Improvement Required (IR) as they make measured progress in meeting state standards.

 Closing the Gap: Takes into consideration successes of various student groups such as students enrolled in special education, economically disadvantaged, or English learners.

Taking these scoring system into account, let’s take a closer look at how Austin measured up compared to Rock Rock ISD and Leander ISD:

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So, the good news is this: whether you desire to live in the urban core of Austin or prefer the suburbs, great public schools are accessible in all areas of greater Austin.

Also, a piece of real estate advice: even if you don’t have kids, pay attention to what school the home you are buying is zoned to. Depending on its scores and reputation, the school you are zoned to can have a big impact on the value of and appreciation of your home.


New Train Station Coming to Downtown ATX

This past Monday, thanks to a $50 million grant by TXDOT, Capital Metro broke ground last Monday on a brand new Downtown Austin train station on Fourth Street between Neches and Red River Streets.  This new station will have a much bigger platform than the previous one, allowing several more trains to travel to downtown at the same time.

Upon completion (projected spring of 2021), the new rail station will expand to two platforms and three tracks instead of its current one platform and one track. Capital Metro hopes to grow its ridership substantially by 2039, aiming for half of all Austin commuters to use some form of public transit.  With a city population that looks to grow by about 2 million people in the same time frame, strengthening our public transit system now is smart growth. 

The builder of the new Downtown train station is Jay-Reese, who is also known for other Austin builds such as the Second Street Bridge near Austin Central Library, the Pfluger pedestrian bridge over Lady Bird Lake and the hike-and-bike trail boardwalk off East Riverside Drive.

Austin's Changing Skyline--Downtown Development in ATX

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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.

The Four Keys To a Successful Inspection

As a prospective home owner, what key items should you look for when the inspection report comes back?  How do you know what items might be potential deal breakers and which are simple repairs? I recommend you start by looking into these 4 categories of major home repairs.

1.     Roof- How old is the roof?  Has it had any previous repair? Have there been any leaks due to problems with the roof? 

A standard roof life is 15-18 years and can cost between $6,000 and $16,000 to repair, depending on the size of the home and on insurance coverage.

2.     Foundation- Has there been any significant shifting or cracks along non-natural seam lines?  Does the floor dip or shift in some parts?

You are looking for the inspection report to say that there has not been any standard significant movement of the foundation.

3.     Electrical- Is the wiring aluminum or copper? Copper wiring is more widely used in homes today due to its greater conductivity and heat resistance.   Aluminum wiring can still be found in some older homes.  Aluminum is much harder to repair than copper wiring, does not conduct energy as well, can tend to overheat and cause damage, and greater care has to be taken to install it properly in the home.  

Ideally you are looking for the inspection report to say that the home uses copper wiring and that no significant electrical issues were detected.

4.     Plumbing- Is the plumbing cast iron or PVC?

Cast iron plumbing will eventually rust from the inside out and should be cleaned out annually to remove build up.  Cast iron was used heavily in construction during the WWII era, so many older homes might have cast iron plumbing in use.  Cast iron is not a deal breaker, but it requires more upkeep and maintenance and can require contractors to dig underground through the slab to get to the pipes. 

Look for the use of PVC piping in the inspection report. If cast iron is used, make sure you understand how it can be accessed for future inspection and repairs and get the inspector to give you a status report on the integrity and lifespan of the cast iron used.