Austin Real Estate News

April 25, 2017

Your spring housing forecast for the Austin real estate market

Austin Real Estate Housing MarketSpringtime is, no doubt, a very popular time to look for a home. With the 2017 tax season behind us, most people now have pockets padded with extra cash to finally make a move.

Looking to move this spring?

CultureMap decided to take a look at the current state of the Austin housing market, to discover how likely it is to find your dream home in this competitive market.

Although the nationwide housing market is slowly improving, there is still an issue with inventory shortage. More and more millennials are entering the housing market, increasing the price and need for entry level, single-family homes in a national market that still hasn’t fully recovered from the economic downturn of 2008. The good news is that, according to Trulia, housing starts were up in March, growing by 9.2 percent since last year.

 What does pricing in Austin look like?

Austin is, unfortunately, not immune to the housing squeeze, and prices are on the rise. The recent Central Texas Housing Market Report shows that single-family home sales in March 2017 in the city of Austin increased by 1 percent year-over-year, while the median home price rose by 13 percent to $371,606. Home sales priced under $300,000 declined sharply, pointing to the "missing middle" of Austin's housing stock.

According to the Austin Board of Realtors, the average number of days a home in the metro area spent on the market decreased from 65 days last year to 61 days in March 2017. In Austin proper, inventory stayed on the market only 48 days (that's actually up from last year).

However, things are still looking bright for the Live Music Capital of the World. In fact, Austin was named the No. 1 market to invest in for 2017.

Should you invest in Austin real estate?

If you are looking to buy a home this spring, you may not come across many deals in the Austin area. However, as prices and demand are both continuing to rise, an investment in the Austin real estate market is currently a good one. Chances are, prices will continue to grow for a while longer.

Want to get started on your home search?

Do you have additional questions regarding the Austin real estate market, or the homebuying process in general? Contact your Pure Gold Realty representative today! 512-467-4053

By Hannah Goodman,

Posted in News
April 20, 2017

The best suburb in Texas is an Austin-area city, according to list

Eanes Schools - Rollingwood AustinAccording to a new list from school and neighborhood ranking site Niche, Texas’ capital city has some of the best suburbs in the state, with one landing in the top 20 in the U.S. 

Rollingwood, the city west of MoPac Boulevard and south of Lake Austin, topped a list of Texas’ best suburbs and ranked No. 19 on a national list. The Niche rundown puts the median home value in Rollingwood at a whopping $757,100. The suburb west of downtown Austin received “A+” grades for its public schools, family-friendly neighborhoods, jobs and healthy lifestyle. 

Other suburban areas making the list: 

·      West Lake Hills (10)

·      Brushy Creek (11)

·      Cedar Park (21)

·      Shady Hollow (26)

·      Bee Cave (30)

·      Hudson Bend (37)

·      Round Rock (39)

·      Lakeway (41)

·      Manchaca (50)

·      The Hills (57)

·      Georgetown (58)

·      Pflugerville (60)

·      Wells Branch (64)

·      Serenada (71)

·      Leander (75)

·      Barton Creek (87)

Niche calculates its ranking using reviews and grades on its site, as well as public data, such as the U.S. Census. For the 2017 Best Surburbs to Live in America list, the density of college graduates factored into 15 percent of a suburb’s score. This was the largest value in the ranking. 

How was each suburb scored?

Cost of living, home values and public schools each made up 10 percent of a suburb’s score. Diversity and commuting time each accounted for 7.5 percent.  All other factors like nightlife or jobs made up 5 percent of a suburb’s grade. 

The list of top suburbs noticeably skews to more affluent areas, since higher education, property values and public school grades comprise 45 percent of the score. Pflugerville and Wells Branch are the only Austin-area suburbs on the list in which white residents make up less than 50 percent of the population. 

As home prices within Austin city limits rise, locals and transplants are increasingly looking to the suburbs to offer bigger spaces or more affordable housing. In July 2016, the Austin-Round Rock metro area finally surpassed the two-million resident mark. 

By Maribel Molina,

Posted in News
April 10, 2017

Travis tax appraisers tout new techniques for assessing property values

Austin Texas House Real EstateThe Travis Central Appraisal District is figuring out the values of properties faster and more accurately, all while fighting off a record number of protests and lawsuits from taxpayers challenging their appraisals, agency leaders told the Travis County Commissioners Court on Tuesday.

Lonnie Hendry, who heads the district’s commercial property division, described how the agency is now mining through immense amounts of disparate online data – found everywhere from company websites to social networks – to get a better sense of how much a property is worth.

How is the Travis County Appraisal District determining value?

“We’ve really changed the focus of our efforts from looking simply for sales prices to use as a method of validation for market value, and we’ve gone to what the market participants look at, which is underwriting criteria, loan-to-value ratios, appraisals done for financing, re-financing,” he said.

As a result, the agency contends that it is able to more accurately assess the values of commercial properties, which city and county leaders have long complained are taxed at a value far lower than they are actually worth on the market, partly because Texas is one of a number of states that does not require the public disclosure of sales prices for properties.

Last week, the district reported that the appraised value of county properties has increased 16 percent this year over last. Commercial values shot up 23 percent, while home values climbed 8 percent.

What has this done for disgruntled property owners?

The increased precision the agency is touting certainly has not done away with disgruntled property owners, however. The number of people protesting their appraisals has steadily increased in recent years, hitting a record of 116,000 in 2016. The number of lawsuits has also risen dramatically, from 195 in 2012 to 703 last year.

And yet, agency leaders told the court, after boosting staff and investing in new data analysis tools, they are now able to much more quickly resolve challenges to appraisals. The agency completed all of its protests by Aug. 31 last year, earlier than ever.

More important still, the agency’s appraised values held up well against lawsuits. On average, lawsuits from commercial property owners succeeded in reducing their appraised value by 6.4 percent.

How are commercial property owners being affected ?

Commissioner Brigid Shea was happy to see a rise in the appraised values of commercial properties, saying that for too long homeowners “were forced to subsidize” business owners whose properties were being underappraised. More accurate appraisals of commercial properties will help reduce the substantial tax burden on residents, she said.

Similarly, Shea was pleased to learn that the district is beginning to “segment” neighborhoods based on whether the homes had been recently remodeled. Shea, who lives in Allandale, said that there was “growing resentment” among longtime residents who feel the value of their homes is being unfairly inflated due to newcomers who are spending big to remodel.

County Judge Sarah Eckhardt applauded the district’s efforts to “scrounge for data” in the absence of mandatory sales price disclosure. That the state does not require disclosure is “absurd,” she said, adding that the county will continue to press for a state law change.

In 2015, the city of Austin brought a lawsuit against the appraisal district and thousands of commercial property owners, arguing that commercial properties were being systematically undervalued, in part due to the absence of sales price disclosure. The district’s chief appraiser, Marya Crigler, supported the city on the matter. A judge threw the case out, ruling that the city lacked standing to sue on the matter.

Opponents of the sales price disclosure, notably those in the real estate business, have long argued that such information should be private and that forcing disclosure would open the door to taxes on real estate transactions. The latter argument was largely rendered moot by a state constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2015 that both raised the homestead tax exemption and prohibited real estate transaction taxes.

 By Jack Craver,

Posted in News
April 7, 2017

This is how much money you need to live comfortably in Austin right now

Austin Texas Boardwalk

A new study from has revealed that Americans living in 39 of the 50 most populous U.S. cities have incomes below (or far below) what’s needed to live comfortably.

Surprisingly, that stat doesn't really seem to apply to Texas, which has seven cities in the study. More surprisingly, Austin is one of the five Lone Star cities where the median salary is actually higher than the magic "comfortability number" calculated by the personal finance website.

The study uses the 50-30-20 budgeting rule, which divides income into three buckets: 50 percent on necessities, 30 percent on discretionary spending, and 20 percent toward savings.

What is Austin's "comfortability" figure?

Austin's "comfortability" figure is $54,631, which is up $1,406 from last year. Though our cost of living is on the higher end ($27,316 is needed just for necessities), our median household income is proportional: $57,689. That's a bigger salary than any other Texas city in the study, giving Austinites a cushion of $3,058 if they're following the 50-30-20 rule.

The biggest Texas cushion — and second-biggest on the whole list — can be found in Arlington, where residents are left with $6,906 after paying their $46,420 for necessities, savings, and discretionary spending. A median income of $53,326, which is slightly higher than what the average person makes in Texas, is largely to thank for all that extra dough.

El Paso residents also enjoy a surplus, with the lowest necessities amount in the entire study ($20,197). The $42,772 median income is $2,379 more than what's needed to live comfortably.

While Fort Worth and San Antonio residents technically come out on top, it's not by much. San Antonians have $590 left after spending $46,154, and a surplus of only $188 in Fort Worth is due to a hefty increase in the income needed to live comfortably, up $1,267 since 2016. That $53,214 salary doesn't leave much after the 50-30-20 rule takes $53,026.

What Texas cities are not comforting its residents in regards to cost of living?

The two Texas cities where residents are making less than they need are Houston and Dallas, and the shortages aren't gentle. In Houston, the gap between the median income ($46,187) and the ideal income ($56,223) is $10,036 — and the ideal income is even down $4,572 from last year. Dallasites are the most strapped, making a significant $14,203 less than the ideal income of $57,984 (which is up another $2,333 from 2016).

But even the largest disparity in Texas is still thousands of dollars better than the situation in Miami, where the median household income is $31,051 and the income needed to live comfortably is $75,891. That $44,840 deficit is more than Dallas' median income alone.

 By Lindsey Wilson,

Posted in News
June 3, 2016

Austin Property Owners Tour Their City and Find the Best Restaurants

Austin Texas Food RestaurantsA huge perk of owning an Austin property is all of the delicious food available a short distance away. Get to know some of the best local spots for grubbing by going on one or more Austin Eats Food Tours. Many tours are available and the guides are all knowledgeable foodies that will show guests a good time and leave knowing some of the best spots for food in the city. The tours that happen weekly are the East Austin Happy Hour Walking Food Tour on Fridays at 3:30 p.m., the Brunch, BBQ, and Brewery Tour by bus on Saturdays starting at 9:30 a.m., the Best of Austin Food Truck Tour by bus on Saturdays starting at 10 a.m., and the South Congress Walking Food Tour on Sundays starting at 9:30 a.m.

Get the Best of Austin home Cooked Food on a Tour with Friends 

Austin property owners can also customize a tour to fit their needs. This can be a great option for a corporate team building activity, a bachelor or bachelorette party, birthday party, or really any other occasion that you want to get a group of friends together to try some great places to eat. Tours typically last around three hours and range in price from $65.00 to $85.00 per person. All guests will leave with new information about an area of the city, a full belly, and hopefully some new friends. All who call Austin home are invited to view more information about all available tours and sign up at Austin Eats Food Tours

Posted in News