Sabine Auction Results

Today’s auction, attended by 200+ people, had a charged atmosphere.  Thirty-one condos were sold in a little over an hour, with places going anywhere from 178% to 221% of the starting bid (based on the winning bid amount – before the 4% premium was added).  Here are the details:

Unit…..Sqft…..High Bid……$/Sqft

Unit…..Sqft…..High Bid……$/Sqft

Unit……Sqft……High Bid……$/Sqft

For further information, see previous post:

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200-Person Facebook Office Coming to Austin?

Although nothing is definite, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, said “Facebook continues to grow and Austin, with its deep talent pool, would allow us to hire the high-caliber employees we need to properly serve the people, advertisers and developers that rely on our service”.  Headquarted out of Palo Alto, CA, Facebook currently employs 1,200 people with outsiders estimating their annual revenue at $500 million.  Besides Austin’s talented work force, Facebook may also be attracted to $1.3 million in incentives from the state of Texas.  Governor Rick Perry’s office has indicated that Facebook would be investing $3.1 million for this expansion into to Texas, an expansion that would create 200 jobs over the next four years.  Sounds like a win-win to us!  We’ll continue to watch how this develops.  Read the Austin Business Journal article.

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Arboretum Home on Cul-de-Sac






When we first walked into 4203 Cliffwood Cove, we were immediately struck by the two-story ceilings above the living and dining rooms which overlook the foliage and deck of a private backyard.  However, it was the second impression which was the most powerful.  This home has amazing charm and character, from a loft lined with bookshelves, to concrete counters and vessel sinks in the master, to windows artfully placed so as to provide ample natural light. 

Type: House
Location: 4203 Cliffwood Cove, Austin TX 78759
Price & Size: $339,990 for 2124 sqft.
Virtual Tour:
Details: located in the Arboretum on a cul-de-sac, 4 bedrooms + office, 2 bathrooms, 2-car garage, hard tile, wood floors, vessel sinks, concrete counters, patio and deck, mature trees, home comes with rare Westover Pool membership (specific to this home, not all in the neighborhood, renewal is ~$380/yr.)
Showings & Info: Jill Crecelius, 512-567-5998,

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Auction at Sabine on Fifth

We have some clients who were considering purchasing a unit at Kennedy Wilson Auction of Sabine on Fifth, so we did some further research.  Here are our notes from speaking with a rep at Kennedy Wilson and reading the literature:

*Sabine on Fifth is located at 507 Sabine Street, Austin, TX 78701
*There are 44 units left, 27 of which will be auctioned on Sunday Feb 28th at 1 pm at the Hilton Austin Downtown, 500 East 4th Street.  Bidders are advised to arrive no later than noon.  The auction is expected to take approximately 1 hour.
*On Sunday, Feburary 21st at 2pm, there is a free seminar reviewing the procedures, registration, strategies, and terms and conditions.
*All bidders must register by 5pm Feburary 25th.
*After registering, you’ll receive a CD of the HOA documents including the financials.
*HOA fees may not include cost for parking. Kennedy Wilson will be able to provide the cost of parking spaces.
*You may view all the units for auction daily from 10 am to 5 pm (including weekends). When I arrived to view, there was valet parking. I was escorted to the sales office in unit 605 where they took my information, gave me a brochure with a map, and in exchange for my driver’s licenses lent me a fob for operation of the elevators. Each unit was clearly marked with the auction number.
*The winning bid will have 4% added to it to establish the purchase price. For instance, if you won with a bid of $135K, then the actual price you would be purchasing the condo at is $140,400. This 4% pays for the seller’s expenses and the cost of the auction.
*There are unpublished reserves (minimum selling price) therefore even if you win the highest bid, the seller may still reject or counter your offer within 5 days following the auction.
*If you use the seller’s approved lender (whom they require you to at least get pre-qualified through), Bank of America or Colonial National Mortgage, and close within 45 days of the auction, you will be credited $3,000 towards non-recurring closing costs.
*If you have the winning bid, you will be immediately requested to sign a Bid Confirmation Sheet and execute the purchase documents. You must also provide a cashier’s check of $2,500 (per condo) plus a personal check to bring the total to 3%-5% of the purchase price depending on the number of condos your are buying. Therefore before the auctioning begins you’ll be required to show that you have the cashier’s check(s) with you.

>Auction Brochure
>Terms & Conditions

Sabine on Fifth had some issues.  On December 16th, 2009, the Statemen reported  “CWS Capital Partners, the developer of Sabine at Fifth, said it had defaulted on the $6.4 million balance on a $16.4 million construction loan for the project but is also nearing completion of an agreement to extend the loan from Compass Bank and GE Capital.

The project is a 10-story former office building at Sabine and West Fifth streets that CWS converted to condominiums in 2007. However, 44 of the 80 units remain unsold, and in March, some residents sued over complaints, including faulty and unsafe elevators and leaks.

Greg Miller, CWS’ vice president for investments, said Tuesday that the loan extension will allow the company to auction the remaining units, probably in February, once a number of improvements have been made, including painting and elevator repairs.

In an agreement with residents, the building will be turned over to the newly formed homeowners association, which “will go a long way to making people feel comfortable” buying into a building owned by its residents, not the developer, Miller said.

Scott Dixon Smith, a resident who had been part of the lawsuit, said the agreement with CWS “resolves our differences and then some.””

>Read More
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**Information deemed reliable but not guranteed.  Buyer must verify.

HUD Policy Helps Quicker Foreclosure Sales

Ann McKinley NMLS#200305, Network Funding

HUD has temporarily waived the rule on FHA loans that prohibits insuring mortgages on homes which the seller has owned less than 90 days.  Previously this requirement has both prevented the quick turn around of foreclosed property and limited buyer’s loan options when seeking affordable homes.  The current plan is for the waiver to be in effect for one year, however FHA may withdraw or extend at any time.  It does come with the following restrictions:

*Transactions must be arms-length.  No identity of interest between the buyer and seller.
*If the sales price is 20% or more above the seller’s acquistion cost, the lender must meet specific conditions for the waiver to apply.
*Waiver is limited to forward mortgages and cannot be used under the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage purchase program.

Read More: full text of waiver on

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Forbes Ranks Austin in Top Cities to Earn a Living

Source: Forbes, Francesca Levy, 9.30.09

In determining the top cities to earn a living, Forbes magazine considered a number of key factors including: low cost of living, job growth, premium commercial environment, and home to businesses in growing, high-paying industries.  Austin ranked fourth in the nation.  Here are the top ten:

1. Dallas
2. Houston
3. Minneapolis
4. Austin
5. Washington, D.C.
6. St. Louis
7. Seattle
8. Atlanta
9. Kansas City
10. Denver

Protesting Your Property Taxes

Confused about protesting your Texas property taxes?  Here’s the basics of the process:

All property must be valued and taxed fairly and uniformly. If you are over-appraised, or the assessed value on your homestead has increased more than 10% from last year, you have grounds for protesting your taxes.

FORMS . Fill-out the appropriate form from your appraisal district. Travis County’s form can be found at, Williamson County’s at Your protest must also be supported by documentation.

DOCUMENTATION . You need as much documentation as possible showing your home is worth less than the appraised value. If you recently bought your home, your closing statement can be used. Your Solis Real Estate Group agent can also provide you with data on comparable homes that have sold in your neighborhood. Other sources include appraisals, photos of defects on the property, engineer’s reports, etc.

DEADLINE . Protests must be filed before May 31st for Travis County and before June 2nd for Williamson County or no later than 30 days after you receive the notice of appraised value, whichever is later. After receiving your written protest, the Appraisal District will schedule a hearing where you can present your case.

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Austin Ranks #1 For Job Growth

Michael Shires, associate professor in public policy at Pepperdine University, and Joel Kotkin, Presidential Fellow and director of the Urban Futures Program at Chapman University, have spent the past five years compiling lists of the best places to do business.  Kotkin recently summarized their results in an article on  Listen to what he has to say about Texas:  “The top of the complete ranking–which, for ease, we have broken down into the two smaller lists, of the best big and small cities for jobs–is dominated by one state: Texas. The Lone Star State may have lost a powerful advocate in Washington, but it’s home to a remarkable eight of the top 20 cities on our list–including No. 1-ranked Odessa, a small city in the state’s northwestern region. Further, the top five large metropolitan areas for job growth–Austin [ranked #1], Houston, San Antonio, Ft. Worth and Dallas–are all in Texas’ “urban triangle.”” Read More

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Texas Ranked #1: Fastest Growing Counties

According to the Austin Business Journal, the U.S. Census report found ten Texas counties among the top 25 fastest-growing in the country.  As a state, that puts Texas in the number one position above California with 6, Arizona with 2 and North Carolina with 2.  These rankings included Travis County in 14th and Williamson County in 23rd.  Read More.

Feels good to be a real estate agent in Austin!

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Stone House Vineyard: Yoga & Champagne Brunch

Sunday, April 5th, at 10 am, Stone House Vineyard is offering a Yoga and Champagne Brunch.  Taught by Leaping for Life Fitness Studio, the one-hour long outdoor yoga session is followed by a champagne brunch on the vineyard’s terrace.  Relax, take in the scenery, and enjoy a peaceful beginning your day.  Cost: $35.

Stone House Vineyard
24350 Haynie Flat Road
Spicewood, TX 78669

For more Austin area events, check out Austin Tidbits.

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New FHA Appraisal Rules

Revised federal guidelines require that all FHA appraisals done after April 1, 2009 provide:
1. The Market Conditions Addendum (Fannie Form 1004MC/Freddie Form 71).
2. At least 2 comparable sales within 90 days of appraisal date.
3. A minimum of 2 active listings or pending sales in addition to the 3 closed comparables.
4. Bracketed listings using both dwelling size and sales price when possible.
5. Adjust active listings to reflect the List To Sales Price Ratio.
6. Adjust pending sales to reflect contract sales price when possible.
7. Include original list price and any revised list prices.
8. Reconciliation of adjusted values of active or pending sales with adjusted values of closed comparable sales.
9. Absorption Rate Analysis.
10. Known or reported sales concessions on active and pending sales

FHA also is restating its warning that “Direct Endorsement Lenders are reminded that if the appraiser they selected provides a poor or fraudulent appraisal that leads FHA to insure a mortgage at an inflated amount, the lender is held responsible equally with the appraiser for the integrity, accuracy and thoroughness of an appraisal submitted to FHA.”

Since this will require additional work by appraisers, it is likely to lead to higher fees.

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Increase in Austin Area Foreclosures

The Austin American Statesmen reported 610 homes up for auction in Travis County (up 79% from April 2008) and 377 in Williamson County (up 103%).  In fact Travis’ have exceeded 400 for the past 8 months and Williamson’s have exceeded 200 for that past 12 months.  Despite these statistics, homes to be foreclosed on in Travis County represent only 0.25 percent of the county’s market, while Williamson foreclosures represent 0.32 percent. 

Our business at Solis has increased significantly over the past month as have the transactions for many of the agents regularly we speak with.  Perhaps this is a reflection of the buyer’s market we are in – low interest rates and sellers willing to negotiate.