TEXAS (Real Estate Center, MarketWatch) – A total of 21,638 existing homes were sold in Texas last month, a 10.3 percent decline from April 2007 according to MLS data compiled by the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. The median price rose 0.6 percent to $147,300 during the same period, and the state finished the month with a 6.5-month inventory on existing homes.
Here is how select Texas cities fared in April:
* 299 homes sold (4.9 percent increase over previous year)
* Median price of $124,900 (5.5 percent increase)
* Five-month inventory
* 2,217 homes sold (13.6 percent decrease)
* Median price of $186,900 (2.7 percent increase)
* 5.3-month inventory
(Steve’s notes: Austin is technically still in a Seller’s market with inventory of 5.3 months, however, the reality on the ground is that many areas of Austin, and the upper price ranges (over $400K), are in a buyer’s market.)
* 210 homes sold (2.9 percent increase)
* Median price of $126,700 (7.6 percent increase)
* 7.1-month inventory
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I’ve just emerged from the murky and bizarre world of the new vehicle shop-and-purchase experience. I am happy to claim 100% satisfaction with the final outcome, but most of my interaction with Austin new car dealerships and salespeople gets a thumbs down.
I’ve only bought 4 new vehicles in my life. I generally think new vehicles are a poor investment, but I also drove my previous 2001 Chevy Silverado (which I bought new in 2000) 130,000 miles and feel like, having only ever spent money for oil changes and new tires, it served me well and I got my money’s worth even though I bought it new.
That older 2001 Silverado has the rear swing extended cab doors though, which isn’t client friendly for getting in and out of the back seat, so I normally drive Sylvia’s minivan with clients. Lately it’s become a hassle trying to coordinate with Sylvia to swap out for the minivan when I have buyers. With gas prices the way they are and car dealers having a hard time selling trucks, this is an extremely good time to buy a new truck, for those of us who are going to drive one no matter what, so I made the decision to move up to a new crew cab 4 door truck. More about the great deal I got later.
I decided that a crew cab truck would be a good next vehicle. Something nice enough to drive clients in (like a Tahoe from the back seat forward) but which also works for hauling stuff and towing, which I need to do often enough to make a truck mandatory in my life.
That brings me to the process of buying a new vehicle. I do it in two steps. First, I go tire kicking and test driving and internet researching until I determine exactly what I want and exactly what I’m willing to pay. Second, I look for the dealer who has the vehicle I want and will sell it for the price I’m willing to pay. The research and test drive part is the most time consuming. I drove the Toyota, Ford, Dodge, GMC and Chevy trucks which is what brought me by necessity into contact with multiple dealerships and salespeople.
What would it be like if homes were sold like cars?
What sort of scripts would you hear when attending an open house or visiting a new home builder? Let’s take a look.
First of all, when you pull up in front of the open house, there would be 3 or 4 Realtors standing in the yard smoking. They would eye you like vultures as you search for a parking spot. When you step out of your vehicle, a Realtor would be standing 5ft from you, having just stamped out his cigarette under his shoe, and you would be greeted with a friendly ‘hello’ and a “what brings you here today?”
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NEW YORK (Newsweek) – Fourteen Texas public schools were among the top 100 on Newsweek’s list of top U.S. high schools.
The schools were ranked according by the number of Advanced Placement, Intl. Baccalaureate and/or Cambridge tests taken by all students at a school in 2007 divided by the number of graduating seniors. All of the schools on the list have an index of at least 1.000.
* Talented and Gifted (Dallas) ranked second with an index of 15.953.
* Science/Engineering Magnet (Dallas) ranked fourth with an index of 10.245.
* Highland Park (Dallas) ranked 15th with an index of 6.035.
* North Hills Prep (Irving) ranked 18th with an index of 5.563.
* Communications Arts (San Antonio) ranked 26th with an index of 5.245.
* South Texas High School for Health Professions (Mercedes) ranked 44th with an index of 4.551.
* Science Academy of South Texas (Mercedes) ranked 46th with an index of 4.543.
* Westlake (Austin) ranked 52nd with an index of 4.331.
* Diamond Hill-Jarvis (Fort Worth) ranked 53rd with an index of 4.317.
* Westwood (Austin) ranked 77th with an index of 3.864.
* Paschal (Fort Worth) ranked 88th with an index of 3.705.
* Colleyville Heritage (Colleyville) ranked 94th with an index of 3.675.
* LBJ (Austin) ranked 95th with an index of 3.667.
* Bellaire (Bellaire) ranked 100th with an index of 3.608.
The 360 Condonimiums in downtown Austin is completely sold out of all 430 units and has a waiting list of over 200 people. New residents start moving in next week. Today’s Austin Statesman has an article about the project and downtown condos in general (link below). The outlook among those quoted in the article remains about the same as it has been for the past year or more.
Some say there can’t possibly be enough demand to absorb the new condos and apartments coming on line in downtown Austin. Others say that demand is underestimated and that many of the projects will be placed on hold (as has already happened with some) and that a balance between supply and demand will be maintained. I’d venture to say that those are two sides of a coin that have been discussed in many metro areas before Austin, from Miami to Las Vegas to Denver, and that the outcome is not always easy to predict. But as we like to believe, “Austin is different”, and so it may be that.
No doubt, it takes a different mindset and set of needs to buy into downtown Austin living. From a strictly dollars and cents perspective, it’s hard to justify the high cost of being downtown compared to what your money will but in Circle C, for example. From a lifestyle and situational standpoint, for some people, it’s a no-brainier decision to live in the heart of downtown Austin.
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The Austin real estate market average sales values fell in April 2008 compared to the year before, yet there remain many areas in Austin with strong sales. The average sales price of an Austin home in April 2008 is $245,483. Last year in April it was $254,846. That’s a price drop of 3.67% overall, but further below I’ll explain how this is misleading and that 75% of the MLS areas in Austin have appreciating values, many over 10%.
Median sold price is up 0.53% from $188,000 a year ago to $189,000 this year. See the chart below and a further rundown on what’s happening in the Austin real estate market below.
Austin Real Estate Market Update for April 2008
All Austin / Central TX MLS Areas – Houses Only
Avg $ SQFT
Not Sold %
On the Market as of May 19 2008:
12,066 = Active Res Listings in Austin MLS (11,522 last month)
9942 = Total Single Family Homes listed (9410 last month)
2026 = Condo/Townhome/Loft/Garden Homes listed (1845 last mo.)
97 = Mobile/Manufactured Homes (267 last month)
The Austin real estate market continues to be sluggish for April 2008 overall, according to our stats, but with many well performing pockets. Number of sales dropped 18% from the same month a year ago. Average list price is down 2.54%. Average sold price, as noted above, dropped 3.67% year over year for April. This is the second month in a row with a 3% drop in average sold price. Median Sold price is up half a percent.
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There is a big difference between decorating your home and staging your home to sell.
To start, stand at the street in front of your house and look. What do you see? Is your home inviting? Is the landscaping fresh and well groomed? Is there maintenance that needs to be done? I can’t tell you how many times I have looked at a house where the gutters were so crammed with dirt and leaves that plants were growing up out of them! This is definitely time to get your gutters cleaned!
As far as the shrubbery, the best age for shrubs and plants in landscaping is 2-3 years. Anything older starts looking bedraggled, so add some younger plants in front of older ones to give a tiered or layered effect. Lantana and Mexican Heather are good for this for this.
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