Last week I attended the VRBO “stakeholder’s meeting” held by the city of Austin. The meeting was the first in response to growing complaints from neighborhood groups and individuals about the burgeoning VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) business in Austin. There were over 100 attendees representing both sides of the debate, as well as some just there to listen, like me. The discussion was lively.
The Anti-VRBO Point of View
Imagine living next to or across the street from a VRBO house in Austin. This home is essentially a guest house for vacationers, year-round. You’re nowhere near a lake or vacation spot. You live in Allandale, or Barton Hills or Travis Heights. Each year, you witness a parade of 50 or more different groups, in and out of the home – every weekend – coming to enjoy UT football, ACL Fest, South by Southwest, and any number of other Austin attractions. Even if the visitors don’t cause problems, have loud parties, or otherwise bother you, you’d still probably rather have a family or other permanent residents living in the home. You’d rather have actual neighbors in your neighborhood instead of a constant stream of strangers on vacation or visiting locals.
The Pro-VRBO Point of View
Imagine you own a home, well located in central Austin. Perhaps you inherited it from a parent, or you purchased it many years ago and kept it as a rental when you moved to the suburbs. For whatever reason, you’d like to hang on to it. Because of the high property taxes, it doesn’t work well financially as a long term rental anymore, with taxes and insurance alone eating up more than half the gross annual rents.
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now. ~Chinese Proverb
I ran across this quote on Facebook about a week ago and it struck me how true this is! Especially now, in the cold of winter in Texas, it is time to plant your trees.
All my clients know that I constantly tell them “plant trees”. This is the least expensive way to add value to your home, but the pay off is several years, so do it now!
Trees add shade and beauty to your yard and when you sell, buyers will appreciate the care you took to plant these beauties.
For more information about earthwise landscaping, go to: www.growgreen.org. I recommend that you stay with native varieties that need less water and can survive in our 100+ degree months in the summer. Some examples are Bur Oak, Texas Ash and Pecan.
For more information and to buy some good trees to go my favorite place, the Natural Gardener on Old Bee Cave Rd. in Oak Hill. The people there are very helpful in choosing the right variety and in providing information on how to plant, how much to water, etc.
Another good website for exploring different trees that do well in Central Texas is Texas Tree Planting.
If you have any other questions or recommendations, give us a call. Grab a shovel and happy planting!
Average and median rents for homes in Austin continued to rise in 2010, but still remain lower then the peak in 2001. Hard to believe, but rents in Austin are still lower than 10 years ago.
As indicated by the graph above, rental rates in Austin topped out in 2001 with the Tech bubble and a surge in growth in Austin and companies hired and expanded. Immediately thereafter, when the Tech bubble popped and 9/11 followed, Austin lost jobs, homes were hard to sell, and rental demand decreased as the inventory of available homes increased.
Below is a chart of the year over year stats comparing the 2010 Austin rental market to 2009.
Austin was recently featured on the CBS Evening News as the city with the strongest job growth in the U.S. This is somewhat of an “all sunshine” puff piece, but it nevertheless highlights some of the good things happening in Austin. Job growth drives real estate demand, so if this year keeps heading in the right direction with jobs in Austin, we should see the Austin real estate demand start picking up as more job seekers move here and more companies relocate to Austin.