The Price Tag for Austin Real Estate with Country Feel and Urban Amenities

Can you picture yourself sipping a glass of wine (or coffee) on your private back deck as you gaze upon natural beauty like big trees, beautiful sunsets and stunning vistas? Would you love to soak in the peace and quiet of country living yet also have easy access to downtown Austin and lots of amenities? A lifestyle in an urban/rural type community can fulfill you on many levels. You can enjoy beautiful surroundings and wildlife with quick access to amenities like restful spas, first-class shopping, new restaurants and fun Austin events.

With this in mind, I’d like to help you with your home search by giving you information about some of the urban-rural type communities in Austin and their current median sales prices.

South Austin Real Estate

The community of Shady Hollow (Zip Codes 78748 & 78739) is surrounded by amenities and is a relatively short drive to downtown Austin. Residents enjoy backyard privacy and a family-friendly community. Moreover, the large oak trees create canopies, giving the community an enchanting feel. The median home prices in Shady Hollow is $384,700. Homes values are predicted to continue rising in 2018.

The town of Buda (78610) is about 15 miles south of Austin. Additionally, it’s one of the fastest growing communities south of Austin. Buda’s proximity to downtown Austin and the Bergstrom International Airport coupled with affordability contribute to its appeal. Home values increased approximately 3.8% over the past year (2017) and are predicted to rise over the next year.  The median price of homes currently listed in Buda is $310,000.

A few miles west of Buda you’ll find the subdivision of Hays Country Oaks. You’ll find homesites with 1.5 to over 7 acres. Prices range from the lower 300’s up to over 1M. Some properties include pastures, stalls, and sheds. In other words, Hays County Oaks provides a true country lifestyle.

I’m currently selling two treed lots in South Austin. One lot is in Buda with a little over an acre of land (MLS #8763733). The second lot is closer to downtown Austin with over .8 of land (MLS #8506921). You can find out more about both lots here: My Lots for Sale

Southwest Austin Real Estate

You’ll find a variety of new and older communities as you drive West on Highway 71. The newer master-planned communities tend to have average size lots (less than .5 of an acre.) With that in mind, they frequently compensate for lot size by offering appealing amenities. For example, master-planned community of Sweetwater (78738) boosts a resort-lifestyle. You’ll have access to the Sweetwater Club, a 10-acre complex full of pools and party spaces, yoga classes and special activities. Moreover, you can explore over 700 acres of hiking and biking trails. Families are attracted to Sweetwater because it’s in the highly-rated Lake Travis School District.  The median home price in Sweetwater is currently $539,000. Personally, I think it’s poised to become one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the area.

Lakeway (78734, 78738) was built around the Lakeway Resort and Spa in the 1970’s. It rests among beautiful rolling hills on the shores of Lake Travis. Years ago I thought of Lakeway as “far-away.” Not so today.  It’s easy to get out there due to the addition of more lanes on Highway 71. You’ll find mature oak trees and incredible views of both the lake and countryside here. Additionally, the schools are well-rated and in the Lake Travis Independent School District. The drive from Lakeway to downtown Austin takes about 30 minutes in non-peak hours. The median price of homes currently listed in Lakeway is $577,450.

Northern Austin Real Estate

Cypress Acres (78641). The subdivision of Cypress Acres is a quiet, lakeside community on the northeast end of Lake Travis. It’s built in the city of Leander, which is growing suburb. To me, this part of the lake feels more rural than the Lakeway community. You’ll find a diverse mix of home styles – from 70’s chic to new construction. The median price of homes currently listed here is $316,990.

I currently have a great waterfront home for sale in Cypress Acres.  You can find out more here: My Waterfront Home for Sale

Anderson Mill/Cedar Park (78750, 78613, 78750). Cedar Park is one of the 20 fastest growing cities in Texas. Its proliferation of parks together with walking trails make it both family and dog-friendly. Cedar Park’s location provides ample opportunities to attend concerts, events, and other experience in downtown Austin area. Overall, you’ll find a mixture of homes built in the early 80’s as well as newer, master-planned communities. The median home price is currently $307,990.

Note: Northwest Austin is very attractive because of shopping, restaurants, hotels and proximity to several high-tech companies. It continues to attact new residents which means more traffic. The commute to downtown can take 45 minutes during peak weekday hours.

Central Austin, the closest country-feel to downtown Austin

West Lake Hills and Rollingwood (78746)  are communities widely known for stunning luxury homes to say nothing of the dramatic landscape, wildlife and desirable location. You’ll find small-town charm along with the convenience of easy access to downtown Austin. A friend and former West Lake resident told me she used to hand-feed deer outside her front door, take her dogs for a walk around the lake less than five minutes away and be in downtown Austin in less than 10 minutes.

The neighborhood grew up in the 1970’s and 1980’s on some of Austin’s most exclusive real estate. These communities are centrally located just minutes from downtown Austin and close to many highways that make traveling anywhere in the city a breeze. You can easily access the Barton Creek Wilderness Park, Red Bud Isle, the Barton Creek Greenbelt, Zilker Park, and the Lions Municipal Golf Course. Additionally, the award-winning Eanes ISD is a top draw for families.

Needless to say, the price tags for these coveted homes are some of the highest in Austin.  The median selling price in Westlake and Rollingwood is 1.3M.

In Conclusion

Although this is a relatively small list of neighborhoods, it can give you a lot to think about. Maybe you’re just starting your search or maybe you’re a little further along with. Regardless of where you are in the process, I can help.

If you want more information about:

  • Price per square foot in different areas
  • Future road improvements and development
  • How to find the best deals in the Austin market
  • And more!

I am available anytime to talk with you and help you succeed in finding your dream home!


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The Benefits of Winter Home Sales

I’d like to talk to you today about one of the most significant decisions you can make in real estate – when to put your home on the market or, in turn, to look for a new home.  You may have heard the conventional advice – wait until spring to buy or sell your home. However, winter home sales have unique benefits. In light of Austin’s popularity and amenities, its luster doesn’t dull in the winter. The home itself, its location to schools and work and the desirability of the city are important and don’t change. As a broker and sales agent, I’ve helped many clients over the years with winter home sales.

The following are some of the key benefits to winter real estate sales.

For Sellers

1 -Less competition. You’ll find most real estate markets flooded with new listings in the spring.  In the spring you may be one of a sea of listings in your neighborhood while in winter you may be the sole listing. Buyers may be better able to appreciate your home and focus on the positive aspects which can induce an offer sooner than you might think.

2- Great weather. Austin winters are temperate. For buyers seeking to escape icy winters, there’s no better marketing than the experience of mild and sunny days while touring homes.

3- A faster sale. Many buyers want to get moved-in before the holidays so they can enjoy their new home and enjoy the season with friends and family.

4- Unique home appeal. The glow of tasteful holiday lights and colorful decorations can uniquely showcase your home. Because buying a home is a mostly emotional experience, creating sparkle and comfort can attract and motivate buyers.

For Buyers

1- Motivated Sellers. Fewer buyers are out in the winter so sellers are usually more motivated to work with you on price and other details of the sale. If you are looking to put in a contingent offer, this can be a good time for it.  You can read more about contingent contracts here:

2- More time to look. You may have the luxury of paid days off giving you more time to focus on your home search without work distractions.

3- Attention from others.  You’ll enjoy more attention from the people that make the deal come together. Loan officers, home inspectors, moving companies and others can generally give you more attention and are more responsive to your questions.

4- Tax Advantages.  Some owners want to take advantage of selling their homes before the year ends to improve their tax situation. That makes them motivated to sell and willing to negotiate.

In Conclusion

In the final analysis, winter homes sales can be even more satisfying than other times of the year. If you want to find out more about how I can help you (in any season) with your real estate needs, please call or email me. I look forward to exploring the best options for you!


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Can Contingent Contracts Work in Austin’s Real Estate Market?

kitchenWhen you are both buying and selling a home, oftentimes you will want to have the proceeds from the sale of your current residence as the down payment for the next home. Making that work requires a Contingency – you will close on the purchase contingent of the closing of the sale. In the hot market we have in Austin, contingent sales are sometimes impossible to negotiate, but not always. It all depends on the agent’s ability to handle these types of transactions as well as the specifics of the homes being bought and sold. For example, a home that is in a highly desirable neighborhood where there is low inventory, priced within the average price range or below, and in excellent condition, is likely to receive multiple offers and a contingent offer is likely to be disregarded, unless the agent does an incredible job negotiating. However, a home that is in a desirable neighborhood but with higher inventory, priced on the high end and maybe not in perfect condition, that seller may not receive multiple offers and therefore might be more likely to accept a contingency. The buyer agent’s job in any of these situations is to provide good written data showing the contingency is low risk for the seller, and therefore should be accepted. Home builders are also often willing to make a home purchase contingent on a sale, but each builder and each community will have different stipulations. Having an experienced agent on your side can make a huge difference when you are moving.

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REALTORS® comment on paint colors for 2017

interior-colors-gray-tones2When selling your home, what color should you use to paint the walls if it’s time for an update? I just read an article about grays going out in 2017, and greens and subtle blues taking over. The original article was posted on a UK blog, and was picked up by Inman News. Sometimes I find the comments after an article just as interesting as the article itself. In this case, most of the Realtors who commented said they are still using grays for walls, with accent colors.  A favorite shade of gray is called “Agreeable Beige” – ironic! Personally, in the Austin real estate market, I am still seeing a lot of gray tones. And when I take buyers into homes with the tans / earth tones, they don’t react favorably. So, at least for now, I’d still advise going with a light gray, possible Agreeable Beige!

Now for something really interesting, one of the Realtors commented that he is working on a paint fillable wall. Ever heard of that? I hadn’t. He says you can change the colors daily with the press of a button. Too much? Well, for those who are undecided, what fun! Maybe it will be the invention that a decade from now we all say, “I should have thought of that.” Or maybe not.

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Given Austin’s Traffic, Wouldn’t You Like to Live Near the Metrorail?

metrorail-trainNew housing developments are sprouting up all over the place in Williamson County: Leander, Georgetown, and Liberty Hill are all growing fast. So how do you choose one neighborhood over another? Well, if you are interested in commuting to downtown Austin using the Metrorail, you might like the new neighborhood of Northside Meadows. It is actually within walking distance of both the Leander Station and a huge HEB at the corner of 2243 and 183. The homes in Northside Meadows are built by DR Horton and are from about $250K-$325K. Jim Plain elementary school is within the neighborhood, and next door is the Leander Station Senior Village (apartments). The neighborhood also feeds into the new Tom Glenn High School not too far away. Coming soon to the area is an ACC campus, the San Gabriel Campus, opening in Summer 2018 off San Gabriel Pkwy near 183A. This will certainly spur even more demand for housing for all the ACC employees and students.

For those who want to use the Metrorail, but don’t necessarily want to be within walking distance, there are many other neighborhoods within a short distance of the park and ride facility. The benefit of using this Leander Station stop is that it is the end of the line. In the morning rush hour, boarding at the first stop is advantageous… you are sure to get the seat you want. Whereas, by the time the train gets to the 3rd or 4th stops, seats may be few and far between. Now that the taxpayers have paid for the mass transit, why not take advantage?

Another unique feature of the Northside Meadows neighborhood is the MultiGen floor plans offered by DR Horton. These floor plans have a home within a home – ideal for multigenerational families living together. The smaller home has it’s own bedroom, bathroom, living area and kitchenette allowing for privacy within the larger family home. Given the price of housing these days, I can certainly see this could be a benefit for many families.

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Learn About the Neighborhood Before Buying a Home

summit-springs-antelope2I did something unusual with my time last Saturday… I went to a neighborhood POA (property owner association) meeting, and I don’t even live in the neighborhood. I went along with my client who is buying a lot to build on, so she doesn’t even live in the neighborhood either.  However, it was time well spent as she (and I) learned several new things about the neighborhood which reinforced her decision to live there (I think). At the very  least, it gave her good information that she wouldn’t have learned otherwise, and could have been a surprise later on.  For anyone considering moving to a new neighborhood, particularly one that is just getting started/developed, I highly recommend doing some investigating first.  Talk to neighbors, ask about the HOA/POA, visit the amenities, and visit the neighborhood several times before making a decision.  At the very least you’ll be better informed and are less likely to have a surprise later on.

One of the things we learned at the POA meeting is that the neighborhood is responsible for road maintenance, and that can be costly. What it means for the owners is an annual increase in their POA assessments so they can accumulate the necessary funds by the time the road needs to be repaved. We also learned that the neighborhood, Summit Springs at Cypress Mill, has 98 homesites, 10 completed homes, and 4 homes currently under constructions. At the meeting, we had the opportunity to meet the POA board members, including the new members that were just voted onto the board. Five people ran for 2 open slots on the board. That tells me the community has involved neighbors who are concerned about maintaining the value of their homes. They even had one homeowner talk about his experience with building his home, sharing some great insights for those lot owners who are getting ready to build.

Since a typical HOA/POA may not have frequent meetings, you may not have the opportunity to attend one before buying a home in a neighborhood. If you don’t have the opportunity to attend a meeting, you can certainly find out who the HOA/POA President is and ask that individual for the highlights of the last meeting, and any insights they can give you into the neighborhood.  Bottom line is, do your research to avoid surprises.

As a final note, the antelopes pictured here were in the neighborhood, Summit Springs at Cypress Mill, when we drove through after the POA meeting. I took a photo of one antelope, and the 2nd one was watching. He quickly walked over to stand next to the one I photographed, and stood still so I could take another photo with both of them! One of the neat features of the neighborhood is the herd of antelope (and deer) that live there and provide an ag exemption for property owners within the neighborhood (on all but 1 acre of their properties, I believe).

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Foundation Warranty Considerations

img_2239One of the biggest concerns buyers have when buying a home is how well the home was built from the foundation up.  Probably the most expensive repair you can have is the foundation if it fails, so buyers want to know they are buying a home with a strong foundation.  When homes are built, they often come with a 10-year warranty.  But I’ve recently learned that not all builders provide that 10-year warranty anymore.  The only builder I’ve come across that doesn’t is Taylor Morrison, who in a recent email to me stated they are “America’s Most Trusted Home Builder 2016”.  Why doesn’t America’s most trusted home builder provide a 10-year foundation warranty on their new homes?  And why would they ever balk at fixing a foundation that has obvious cracks and issues?  Well, that’s what I have been asking myself for weeks now… as my client is trying to work with Taylor Morrison to fix the foundation that has led to cracks including the one pictured here.

So, if you are a home buyer, please ask up front, before falling in love with a community or home, does it come with a 10-year foundation warranty.  If you are a REALTOR, do the same and make your clients aware that it is no longer required by law that a builder provide a 10-year warranty.

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