Rare Lot – Avery’s Brookside Neighborhood

Charming brick 5-bedroom home on large corner lot with mature trees — a rare find in Brookside, Avery Ranch’s premier neighborhood. This home is stunning with its archways, open layout, 2 story living room windows overlooking Continue reading “Rare Lot – Avery’s Brookside Neighborhood”

UT Condo – Incredible Location

About as close to UT as you can live!  Wood laminate floors, high ceilings, surprisingly large walk-in closet, balcony overlooking tree tops, fireplace, and appliances including washer, dryer, and refrigerator convey.  Condo complex Continue reading “UT Condo – Incredible Location”

Austin – Third Most Recession-Resistant City

Brookings Institute published the top 10 stable cities in the US and Austin ranked 3rd:

1. Albany, NY
2. Augusta, GA
3. Austin, TX
4. Baton Rouge, LA
5. Buffalo, NY
6. Columbia, SC
7. Dallas, TX
8. Des Moines, IA
9. El Paso, TX
10. Honolulu, HI

The Brookings Institute examines trends in metropolitan-level employment, output, and housing conditions to look “beneath the hood” of national economic statistics to portray the diverse metropolitan trajectories of recession and recovery across the country.

Read the Full Report: http://www.brookings.edu/metro/MetroMonitor.aspx

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Census Bureau Jobs – Austin

Census Bureau expects to hire up to 3,000 temporary workers for Travis County.  Work schedules are flexible and pay ranges from $8-$24 per hour.  To apply, call 1-866-861-2010 to schedule a basic employment test.  For more information visit: www.2010censusjobs.gov

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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 www.traviscad.org, Williamson County’s at www.wcad.org. 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 www.newgeography.com.  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

To keep in-touch with Austin news and events, follow us on Twitter:  http://twitter.com/mysolis

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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
Reservations: rita@stonehousevineyard.com

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.

Economist’s Predictions for 2009

Economist Dr. Jim Gaines of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University gives a comprehensive look at where the economy, construction, employment, population, and housing is headed in this video 2009 and Beyond. The data is stagering and certainly leaves Texan’s feeling a bit lucky. Dr. Gaines covers a mountain of research in this 52-minute video in a manner that is clear and concise. Definitely a must-see for all Texas real estate agents. Here are a few tidbits:

Texas Outlook 2009
*Texas job growth is predicted to be 1.5-2%.
*Housing market expected to be relatively strong but “spotty”.
*Reduction in overall residential demanded related to tighter credit, less investment buying, and less second home purchases.

Research includes insight into what lead to this housing crisis and why Texas is fairing much better than most of the nation. It feels good to finally put the numbers and graphs to what we as Austin real estate agents have been experiencing, and the extrapolation of this data is invaluable to future business planning.

Dr. Jim Gaines, Real Estate Center, 2009 and Beyond

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41 Largest Landowners Reside in Texas

Forty-One of the country’s 100 largest landowners, in terms of number of acres, live in Texas according to The Land Report. Of the top 20, 9 are in Texas including the heirs of the King Ranch who rank sixth with 851,642 acres. View the Land Report’s 100

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