Archive Monthly Archives: October 2009

Gabardine, You’re no Shady Hollow

I was reading an article about a new subdivision in South Austin yesterday and was struck by the blatant misrepresentation of the neighborhood. The new subdivision is called Gabardine and is located on Frate Barker Rd. Frate Barker connects Manchaca Rd. and Brodie Ln.

The article states:

“Gabardine is a unique community in the sought-after Shady Hollow neighborhood”.

Uh, no it’s not.

Gabardine, I’ve sold homes in Shady Hollow. I know Shady Hollow. Shady Hollow is a friend of mine. Gabardine, you’re no Shady Hollow.

Shady Hollow is a long established “move up” neighborhood of homes on big lots with mature trees. Gabardine is a small enclave built on what was a 20 or 30 acre treeless meadow on Frate Barker Rd. It bears absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to Shady Hollow in appearance or otherwise. It shares a zipcode and set of schools. That’s it. Yet, the Gabardine developers have made the decision that it needs to be presented as a part of Shady Hollow.

Gabardine is one of those “new age” subdivisions which is a blend of condo/home, with higher HOA fees but no yard maintenance for your freestanding condo home. The roads are private and owned/maintained by the home owners. There is no pedestrian connectivity between Shady Hollow and Gabardine. The two neighborhoods are completely unconnected in location, design and spirit. An owner at Gabardine will pay no Shady Hollow HOA fees nor have access to any of the Shady Hollow amenities. Gabardine will have its own pool and community amenities which will not be available to Shady Hollow residents.

Yet, in the article, Gabardine lays claim to being part of Shady Hollow. On the Gabardine website, it’s presented at the top of the home page as “a tailored little pocket of Shady Hollow”. And elsewhere on the home page is stated: “At last. You’ve reached the tailored little pocket of Shady Hollow” … “Shady Hollow is one of the most sought after areas of town for many home buyers” … “Gabardine is a different kind of community for the Shady Hollow area” …

So why the vigorous co-opting of the name “Shady Hollow”?
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Posted by Steve
6 years ago

Want to Avoid an HOA Neighborhood in Austin? Be Careful

HOA Rules Austin TX Real EstateIn early 2007 I got fed up with the deed restriction violations in my SW Austin neighborhood. This was a neighborhood with no Home Owner’s Association, and thus, no formal enforcement mechanism to keep bonehead neighbors in line.

This all came to a head when one neighbor decided to install a mobile home on their newly purchased 2 acre property. They did install the MH and they moved in. The plan was to live in the mobile home temporarily, for a year or two, while they built a new custom home, then remove the MH. The neighbors were outraged at the mobile home, which was a clear violation of deed restrictions. Tempers flew, rude signs were placed at the property, the email list caught fire with discussions, and a neighborhood meeting was called.

“Good!”, I thought. Under the umbrella of addressing the mobile home being placed on the property, we could also discuss the fact that nearly every other home in the neighborhood was also in violation of the deed restrictions, though in smaller ways.

In my neighborhood of 2+ acre homes, fences were in disrepair and/or too high, or made of wood, mailboxes broken and never fixed, driveways crumbling, yards never mowed, out-buildings that didn’t match the main home in appearance, remodel and construction projects that were started, abandoned and left as eye-sores, and several large commercial metal buildings had been built in back of properties.

The neighborhood was going down hill and becoming shoddy. Remember, without an HOA, and outside city limits, there is nobody to whom these violations can be “reported”. The County does not enforce deed restrictions. You have to actually hire an attorney and sue your neighbor in order to address violations. My home, which we had built in 2003, was the newest home in the neighborhood and I felt its value was threatened by the lack of upkeep in the neighborhood. This neighborhood meeting would therefore be a perfect opportunity to see if that could be turned around.

At the meeting, a succession of neighbors got up and railed against the mobile home. When I got up to speak, I spoke not against the mobile home or its owners (who attended the meeting and took all the heat), but instead asked the simple question “do we want to enforce deed restrictions or not? We can’t say that we want to ignore all deed restrictions except this particular one restricting mobile homes”.

And then I rattled off the aforementioned list of actual, current deed restriction violations on various neighborhood properties and wanted to know if anyone cared about those. To me, we needed to have this discussion of the underlying issue and then discuss the mobile home and other violations in the context of a shared understanding of whether or not the deed restrictions should be observed equally by all home owners.

I nearly got booed out of the meeting. “That’s different”, someone said. “This isn’t Circle C”, another blurted, to which I responded, “yes, that’s obvious to anyone who drives through and sees how shoddy the neighborhood looks”. Another neighbor shouted at me “we all moved out to a neighborhood like this because we want to be left the f**k alone and not be hassled by Yard Nazis”. To that I responded, “but you’re not leaving this family alone, now are you? You’re hassling them. You’re all saying that you don’t care about following the rules, but you want this one family alone to follow the deed rules – the same deed restriction rules that most of you are breaking yourselves – because you think their particular deed violation is a whopper, but that your own lesser violations are ok. You can’t have it both ways”. This perfectly logical and fair reasoning fell on deaf ears.

Finally someone said if I didn’t like it I could move. I already knew that. I went home that night and told Sylvia we were moving. I didn’t want to live around these rednecks and their declining neighborhood anymore.
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Posted by Steve
6 years ago

Austin Real Estate Market Update – Sept 2009 Stats

Austin Real Estate sales values for September 2009 are even (up 0.04%) with the same month last year. The number of homes sold is actually up 0.61% from the same month a year ago, no doubt due to a surge in the lower priced homes caused by the $8,000 home buyer tax rebate. More on that in another article. Let’s take a look at the September chart.

Austin Real Estate Sales Market Update – Sept 2009
Homes only (condos, duplexes, etc. not included) compiled from Austin MLS data

Aug 2009 Sep 2009 Sep 2008 Yr % Change
# Sold 1706 1639 1629 0.61%
Avg List $255,966 $257,361 $255,585 0.69%
Med List $195,750 $194,900 $189,900 2.63%
Avg Sold $246,372 $246,185 $246,079 0.04%
Med Sold $190,000 $188,500 $185,000 1.89%
Sold/List % 96.25% 95.66% 96.28% -0.65%
Avg SQFT 2200 2144 2120 1.13%
Med SQFT 1973 1919 1909 0.52%
Avg $ SQFT $111.99 $114.83 $116.08 -1.08%
Avg DOM 72 67 66 1.52%
Median DOM 43 40 48 -16.67%
# Expired 492 529 819 -35.41%
# Withdrawn 897 794 910 -12.75%
Not Sold 1389 1323 1729 -23.48%
Not Sold % 44.88% 44.67% 51.49% -13.25%


Median sold prices are up almost 2%. The sold to list price gap is 95.66%, which is slightly less than the 96.28% a year ago. The “Not Solds” (expired and withdrawn) remain high at 45%, but are down significantly from Sept 2008 when more than half (51%) of all listings departing the Austin MLS were failed sales efforts.

Overall, nothing surprising or unexpected with the Austin market for September. Let’s take a look at the Year to Date stats for Austin.

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Posted by Steve
6 years ago

Who is Really Getting the $8,000 Tax Credit in Austin?

As the November 30 closing deadline for “first time” home buyers in Austin and across the U.S. approaches, buyers are creating price bubbles in South Austin in the sub-$200K range. Perhaps other areas as well, but I work South Austin mostly so it’s the area with which I’m most familiar. We have one buyer who has now repeatedly lost out on homes below $150K in South Austin. Most recently, an offer of $5,000 over the list price still wasn’t enough to beat the other multiple offers. Which begs the question, who’s getting this $8,000 tax credit anyway? It looks to me like sellers in South Austin are getting some or all of it as buyers scramble to compete for a limited inventory of close in, affordable homes in South Austin.

There are currently 158 homes for sale in the 78745 zip code of South Austin (MLS area 10N for the most part). Of those 70 are pending. Normally, in a balanced market, we’ll see 1 Pending listing for every 3 to 5 Active listings. South Austin 78745 currently has a huge Pending/Active ratio of 70/88, or almost 1 Pending for every active listing. If we limit the search to homes with list prices below $200K, the ratio is 55 Pending to 41 Active, or 1.34 Pending sales for ever Active listing. That’s what I call an “inverted ratio” (greater than 1.0), meaning the market is absorbing homes faster than they are being provided by Austin sellers.

If we limit to the search to homes priced below $150K, the ratio is a monster 17 Pending/6 Active. That’s almost 3 Pending listings for every Active listing. Wow!
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Posted by Steve
6 years ago