Archive Monthly Archives: July 2007

Austin renters to pay more late fees with new law

LAte Rent
The brilliance of our Texas Legislature is on display again as a new law, HB 3101 which will go into effect Jan 2008, has been passed that will produce greater late fee income for landlords by ensuring that more renters pay their rent late. Undoubtedly, this is not the outcome hoped for by State Representative Rafael Anchia from Dallas, who boasted in this press release of his “ground-breaking tenant rights bill”, but in fact, the outcome will be more tenants paying more late fees. Of that I am sure.

The bill imposes a mandatory grace period for the payment of rents in Texas such that a landlord may not charge a late fee to a tenant unless the rent is more than two days late. This is in fact supported by the Texas Apartment Association as well as tenant rights groups, so what the heck am I talking about when I say it will result in tenants paying more late fee? Will it not benefit tenants to have a couple of extra days to get the rents paid? No, it won’t.

A grace period causes tenants to pay rent with less diligence than when no grace period exists. In other words, without a grace period, more renters will pay on time on the 1st and avoid late fees. With the grace period, tenants get confused about the actual due date because it’s a fuzzy date instead of the clear, hard line in the sand that the 1st represents. Let me further explain how I came to discover this.
Read more …

Posted by Steve
9 years ago

Austin Rental Market Update – June 2007 and Mid-year Stats

Rents continue increasing overall in Austin, as the number of homes rented drops. The average leased price of a home in Austin for June 2007 is $1364 per month, up 7.5% from $1269 in June of 2006. Average days-on-market for homes rented in June 2007 was 41 days. The median days on market was 28 days, which means half of all homes listed in the Austin MLS for rent were leased in less than 28 days. We are clearly moving back into a solid Landlord’s market.

Austin Rental Market Stats June 2007
Previous Month and Year Comparison
All MLS Areas - Houses Only

 
May 2007
June 2007
June 2006
Yr % Change
# Leased
650
750
789
-4.9%
Avg List Price
$1384
$1370
$1279
7.1%
Median List Price
$1250
$1250
$1195
4.6%
Avg Leased Price
$1377
$1364
$1269
7.5%
Med Leased Price
$1210
$1250
$1150
8.7%
Avg Size SQFT
1910
1897
1837
3.3%
Median SQFT
1817
1810
1745
3.7%
Avg $ per SQFT
$0.72
$0.72
$0.73
-1.4%
Avg Days on Mkt
40
41
46
-11%
Median Days on Mkt
36
28
37
-24%

Year-to-Date, average 2007 rents in Austin are up 6.5% from the same 6 month Jan-Jun period of 2006 last year. The YTD average leased price is $1309 per month, up from $1229 last year. We must be mindful however that summer rental activity is stronger, thus as we move through July and August and into the slower Fall/Winter month, the YTD average may drop some. But things are certainly looking good for landlords and property managers in Austin.
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Posted by Steve
9 years ago

Austin Real Estate Market Sales Stats – June 2007 Update

Below are the June 2007 and YTD mid-year real estate sales stats for Austin and surrounding areas. These are for single family homes, condos are not included.

The most interesting thing to me on the first chart below for June sales is that the median days on market is 28 days. That means half of all homes listed in the Austin MLS sell in less than 28 days. That’s outstanding. The Average days on market for June was 56 days, which is also very good. Austin is really a city of many sub-markets, as the breakout by MLS area below shows. Some areas are experiencing strong demand and great appreciation while other parts of Austin (mainly surrounding suburbs to the east) are seeing slow sales and little or no appreciation due to a slowdown in starter home sales.

Overall, June sales saw the number of homes sold fall 11%, but the average prices keeps rising, with a 7.9% increase in average sold prices in Austin from $244,710 last year to $263,985 for June of this year. The Median sold prices rose 6.9% from $182,000 to $194,500. We’re not far from our Median sales price moving above $200K for the first time ever. The average price per square foot increased 7.9% from $114 last year to $123 for June 2007. Days on market continues to decrease, meaning homes are selling faster than this time last year. Though not reported in the charts below, our inventory of available homes is increasing somewhat, but demand is keeping up in most areas.

Austin Sales Stats June 2007
Previous Month and Year Comparison
All MLS Areas - Houses Only

 
May 2007
June 2007
June 2006
Yr % Change
# Sold
2568
2613
2921
-11%
Avg List Price
260,267
270,162
249,914
8.1%
Median List Price
189,900
199.086
187,415
6.2%
Avg Sold Price
254,392
263,985
244,710
7.9%
Med Sold Price
187,000
194,500
182,000
6.9%
Avg Size SQFT
2130
2139
2146
-0.3%
Median SQFT
1923
1951
1965
-0.7%
Avg $ per SQFT
$119
$123
$114
7.9%
Avg Days on Mkt
54
53
56
-5.3%
Median Days on Mkt
27
28
32
-12.5%

Below is a year to date breakdown, again for the entire Austin MLS, single family homes. So far YTD Austin MLS sales prices are up 6.1% over the same period last year and the median sold price is up 5.7%.
Read more …

Posted by Steve
9 years ago

NY Times writes about Austin Hill Country

Bee Cave TX
Austin’s Hill County sprawl was featured in this New York Times article a few days ago.

The article does a pretty good job of outlining the issues facing growth in the fragile Hill Country area west of Austin. This is near the intersection of Hwy 71 west at Bee Caves/620, and further SW toward Dripping Springs. There won’t be any cheap starter home neighborhoods being developed in these areas. It’s too expensive to buy land and develop. And developers can expect to be fought tooth and nail and held accountable by locals who don’t want to see the Hill Country spoiled.

The growth is spured, in large part, by the new LCRA water line. Where water lines and roads goes, development follows. Personally, having been in the traffic snarl at Bee Cave/71/620 all too many times, I wouldn’t purchase a home that forced a daily commute through that area. I don’t care how nice it is. Wrecks are frequent and there is no short or easy way around those intersections. I don’t see any solution other than an eventual elevated overpass, which may take years (or decades) to build and will no doubt be fought hard by locals, as is the case with the proposed overpass through Oak Hill at Hwys 290/71.

July 8, 2007 – National Perspectives
Battling to Keep the Country in the Texas Hill Country By KRISTINA SHEVORY
BEE CAVE, Tex.

NEARLY two decades ago, Gene and Linda Lowenthal, who were living in Austin, decided that they would eventually want to move to the wide-open countryside. They bought 58 acres in this small town in the Texas Hill Country, about 45 minutes west of Austin, built a small house and moved here in the mid-’90s, finally free of noise and sprawl.

That freedom lasted about nine years. Then, bulldozers started appearing on hillsides once covered with live oak and mesquite trees. Houses and traffic lights popped up on once-forlorn roads leading to their home. Plans for a water line were drawn.
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Posted by Steve
9 years ago

The Hall of Shame for Worst Realtor Photos

I’ve written in the past about the really bad photos that can be seen on far too many MLS listings. When I wrote this article back in September 2006, someone somehow recognized the house and sent a link to the Seller who in turn informed his agent. That agent contacted me and threw a fit so I took the photo down, even though there was no referrence to the specific address or even the area of Austin in which the listing was located. It was somewhat amusing to me that the agent was so angry at me about a photo he took and chose to place on an MLS listing.

Well check this out. That was just one photo in one blog article and one agent, and I took heat for it. I wonder what sort of flak Canadian Realtor Norm Fisher is going to catch for putting up a gallery of 30 terrible photos (see link at bottom of this article) that he pulled from his local MLS. He says it only took him about 30 minutes of browsing listings to assemble the 30 photos. I believe it. The same could be done here in Austin. But he went through the trouble of placing the photos into a talking slideshow, where he delivers deadpan commentary about each photo. I’m not sure which cracks me up more – the photos and commentary, or the Canadian accent backed up by the soft, romantic instrumental music. It’s great stuff. A link to the slideshow along with a story about it was in todays Realtor Magazine Online email digest. I’m sure he’s going to getting a lot of hits to his website from that article. Then eventually the agents who’s photos are featured on his slideshow will be calling him to complain and make excuses and demand the photo be removed.

Bravo to Norm Fisher of Royal LePage of Saskatoon Saskatchewan Canada for a clever, funny and somewhat campy presentation. There is a serious point being made though – when you hire a Realtor, check out the current listings of that Realtor to see how your home will be presented.

OK, here is the link to the Hall of Shame for Worst Realtor Photos

Posted by Steve
9 years ago

Hutto, Kyle among fastest-growing cities

From the Austin Business Journal today. Hutto and Kyle continue to be boom areas, though not areas we recommend to buyers/investors looking for the better appreciation found in the closer in Austin neighborhoods.

If I had to pick one of these areas for a first time buyer to consider though, I’d go with Kyle and I’d try to stay west of IH35. Kyle and Buda have a better mix of commercial and residential real estate activity, have easy access to other locations and amenities, and you don’t have to pay toll fees to get back and forth from Austin (though you do have to drive IH35).

Hutto is almost entirely a bedroom community, but is working hard to create a bigger commercial real estate footprint. Last year Hutto had the lowest real estate value appreciation of any of Austin 50+ MLS areas, a side effect of the rapid growth as resale homes cannot compete against the new home builders. But a young person working at Dell, Samsung or NE Austin would appreciate the location of Hutto and the affordability of the homes, though the daily tolls could eat into the affordability quickly.

Austin Business Journal – 2:27 PM CDT Monday, July 9, 2007
According to U.S. Census Bureau’s statistics from July 2000 to July 2006, Central Texas has some of the state’s fastest-growing cities.

Hutto ranked first as the state’s fastest growing city, with a growth rate of 666 percent. The city of Kyle ranked fifth.

The bureau’s report says Hutto’s population has increased from 1,250 in 2000 to 17,227 in 2006. Kyle’s population increased from 5,314 in 2000 to 20,655 in 2006, an increase of 289 percent.
Read more …

Posted by Steve
9 years ago