Tag Archives: Austin homes

Finding the Right Master Planned Community in Austin

Are you looking for a new home in one of Austin’s many master-planned communities? As a Broker/REALTOR® and Owner of Goodwin & Goodwin Real Estate, I can help you find a home that’s best suited to your lifestyle. Whether you’re looking for quick access to riding stables, great golfing and tennis, or sipping wine on your patio, one of the following three communities may be right for you.

The Hills of Bear Creek

Want a competitively-priced home with contemporary style, easy access to Austin’s airport and stables close by? The Hills of Bear Creek could be the answer. You’ll find homes priced from $300K-$400K. Moreover, property taxes are lower than in Austin. This is an 85 home community built by Milestone. It’s located South of Austin in Manchaca, pronounced “man-shack” by locals. Manchaca is about 16 miles from downtown Austin and features great BBQ at Valentino’s.

The Enclave at Covered Bridge

If you’re looking for more of a luxury lifestyle experience and access to the Texas Hill Country, The Enclave at Covered Bridge could be a good choice. The community is located on 290 West which is just a few miles away from the Texas Hill Country. It’s about 25 minutes from downtown Austin. Homes generally start at $450K. I give a big thumbs-up to the builder (Brohn homes) for preserving 18 heritage trees. Additionally, Brohn endeavors to create great Hill Country views and support the natural surroundings.

Rough Hollow

Does a lake-living resort-lifestyle appeal to you? If so, the Rough Hollow Community on Lake Travis may be the answer. Rough Hollow is a large luxury community built along a cove of Lake Travis with six distinct sections. If you love being active, you’ll have lots of choices to do so here.  Highland Village is the community’s private yacht club, water park and more. Additionally, if you love sipping a glass of wine at sunset you’ll find wonderful vistas here. Rough Hollow also feeds into the award-winning Lake Travis School District. I am impressed with Brookfield Builder’s commitment to their core values of passion, integrity, and community which is the foundation for a great community.

In Conclusion: When working with me as your Broker/REALTOR®, you can expect me to listen carefully to your priorities and show you the best homes for your lifestyle so you can enjoy your home for years to come!  Want to see one of these communities or others? I’m ready to help you today!

 

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Filed under Austin, Austin Homes, Austin Real Estate Market, Hill Country, master-planned communities, Real Estate, South Austin

A Real Estate Scam that’s Sweeping the Country

I wanted to share with you important information that can protect you from falling victim to a real estate scam. It’s happening to home buyers here in Austin and around the country. In 2016, this type of real estate fraud held 16th place in terms of the number of reported complaints (12,005) but held first place in dollar losses (over $360 million).

Imagine this: After months of searching for a home and doing all the necessary paperwork to secure a loan, your closing date is just days away. You and your family can hardly wait move in. In the middle of last-minute packing, you don’t think twice about an email that appears to be from your Realtor®, lender or title company. The email instructs you to wire the closing fees to a different bank account from the one you were scheduled to use.

You stop what you’re doing to get it done. Inexplicably, you later find out that the title company didn’t receive the funds. Unbeknownst to you, offshore hackers diverted your money into their account. You are shocked. Moreover, if you can’t come up with additional funds, you’re apt to lose the home. Tragically, many buyers don’t know their money is gone until the day of closing.

How the Hackers Work

Hackers typically break into one of the real estate parties’ email accounts. Then they hack into as many of the parties’ email accounts as possible. One by one, they learn the identities of the parties by monitoring the email. Skilled hackers will go undetected because they mimic the conversational styles between the parties. They find out details about your closing and time their requests accordingly.

How to Tell Real from Fake

If you get a request to wire funds from your lender, Realtor®, or title company, regardless of how official the email looks, call to confirm the account number and the name on the receiving end. Sometimes it’s smart to look up the phone number yourself. Don’t call a phone number you don’t recognize. Additionally, after you send money, confirm that the title company received it.

I always tell my buyers to call the title company to verify the exact wiring instructions and never to believe any last minute email instructions on where to send their money.

What to Do if You Get Scammed

You may be able to get back your money if you act quickly. Call your bank immediately. Emphasize that you are a victim of fraud. Tell them to contact the recipient bank to reject the wire transfer as fraudulent.

  1. Report the scam to your regional FBI office. Explain that you’re a home buyer and a target of “email account compromise” in which a hacker instructed you to wire money to a fraudulent account. According to the FBI, the bureau might be able to help return or freeze the money.
  2. File an online complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
  3. File a complaint with the FTC by selecting Scams and Rip-offs, then Impostor Scams.

In conclusion:  It pays to be vigilant at all times.  I make sure that all my clients know about this scam. When working with me in the buying or selling process, you can expect very close monitoring of all email correspondence and the highest level of security.

 

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Filed under Austin, Austin Homes, Austin Real Estate Market, Email Security, Real Estate

My Tips for Buying a Lot and Building a New Home

Are you thinking about building a new home? For many home buyers, building a new home from the ground up is appealing. Understandably so. You’re able to get what you want rather than live with choices the previous owners made. You have control over paint colors, flooring, energy-efficiency and more. In fact, you’ll be able to have a home that completely reflects your lifestyle.

First off, to ensure a great experience building your dream home. take the time to do your homework.  As a Texas REALTOR®, I want to share the following tips to save you time and money.

Determine Your Budget

Before you purchase land, it’s wise to investigate the cost of building on it. Based on my experience, a good rule of thumb is to plan to spend up to 30 percent of your budget on a lot and 70 percent on your actual home. For example, if your budget is:

  • $500K = You should spend up to $150K or less on the land.
  • $1M = You should spend $300K or less on the land.
  • $1.5M = You should spend $450K or less on the land.

The market conditions, the location of the lot and the school district are among the variables that come in to play in deciding whether a lot is right for you. It’s a good time to buy in Austin because of its current and projected growth. You can find out more about Austin here: Austin Stats

Talk to a Realtor®

Find an experienced REALTOR® that knows the area well. A good REALTOR® knows information about the type of soil you’ll find in different areas of the city, the comparable prices of other homes in the neighborhood and the current market conditions. Moreover, they can be a good resource to help you choose a reliable builder.

Vet Your Builder

People frequently get into trouble because they find out too late that the builder they hired is falling short of what was promised. Even though you may pay more, hiring a builder with a strong reputation and references is worth it. Knowing that your builder is responsive to your questions and concerns goes a long way to alleviating stress. There’s nothing more frustrating than having your calls go unanswered when you need information!

Read what happened to a couple who didn’t vet their builder. Home Building Horror Story

Manage your Expectations

Overall, it’s important to have realistic expectations. Custom homes usually take between 6 months to 18 months to build. Why? Because the lot may require additional site work that’s not apparent until the building begins or suppliers run behind or the weather isn’t cooperating. Not to mention easements, zoning laws, property line restrictions and the architecture guidelines and review processes. Moreover, if you’re building a home with your significant other, don’t understand the amount of stress (and joy) this process may create. Keep the end goal forefront in your mind.

In conclusion building a custom home is limited only by your imagination and your budget. With lots of forethought, you’ll make the process an easy one. I’d like to help! Here are my lots for sale My Lots for Sale – and I can show you many more not listed here.

 

 

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Filed under Austin Homes, Austin Real Estate Market, Buying a Lot, Real Estate

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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Ideal Family Vacation Home… but no STR here

Blanco RiverShort term rentals (STRs) have really gotten a bad name lately.  Not only is Austin hostile to them, but now the sentiment has trickled down to Wimberley.  My husband and I went to check out an adorable cabin in Wimberley, right on the Blanco river (but high enough not to flood), and we fell in love with it.  How great to have a place to go a few times a year with the kids or friends, for a peaceful weekend away from the frenzied pace of Austin.  But as I’m asking the listing agent some questions, she says it would not be ok for this home to be used as a short term rental.  Really?  This cabin that is totally set up as a vacation home?  The floorplan is ideal for weekend retreats, but as a full-time home it has some definite shortcomings – including the main shower in the house being downstairs while all the bedrooms are upstairs.  And the fact that the bedrooms all accommodate beds, but little else, and slanted ceilings to boot.  And the closets are definitely not intended to hold more than what you might bring for an extended stay of a week, perhaps.

I can understand home owners not wanting nightly parties going on next door… but wait, my next door neighbor does just that.  He has a pool in his backyard, and frequently has his family and friends over enjoying his pool and outdoor concerts which spill over into my backyard.  Should I ask my local politician to create an ordinance to stop him from his partying ways?  Again, I can see both sides of the argument, but I lean toward giving people a little more freedom and a little less regulation.  Think about it, if this cabin were a vacation home, the neighbors on the street might have the opportunity to meet people from around the world as they travel to a cabin on the Blanco.  They might meet people they’d never meet if they had to stay at a hotel or a vacation home somewhere else.  And, if they were likewise unable to rent vacation homes in other locales, what a shame.  Some of my families’ best vacations have been spent in homes, not in hotels.  There are always two sides to every coin, and before city councils end the days of vacation homes, perhaps they should take a moment to consider the other side of the coin.  Rather than eliminating short term rentals, why not just send law enforcement to quiet down the bad actors?

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Filed under Austin Homes, Real Estate, Wimberley homes

Update on Average Home Prices in and Around Austin

sold for $450KI was pulling up sales data this week, and decided to look at a comparison of the average sales price in Austin vs. the average sales price in the 3 county metro area (Travis, Williamson and Hays).  Prices keep climbing and we’re now at a point that the average home price in Austin is nearly $172,000 higher than the average price in the 3 county area excluding Austin. Of the 2,089 home sales in Austin during the last 90 days, the average price was just under $450,000. For the 3 county area, excluding Austin, the average price was $278,000. That makes it very appealing for many families to move outside of Austin to get a larger and often newer home for less money. It also makes it harder and harder for those who’ve lived in Austin for a long time to protest their tax appraisals since there are so many sales at high prices to warrant the higher appraisals. For the time being, I don’t see a slowdown in the price appreciation, but I always welcome other viewpoints.      

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Affordable Austin – Some Examples

Tawny FarmsThese days finding a home under $200K in Austin is difficult.  There are only 55 houses for sale in Austin priced at $200K or below, and all but a few of those are in East Austin.  That’s out of 2,102 homes for sale in Austin, or less than 3%.  As for condos, there are 84 for sale for $200K or less, out of a total of 475, just under 20%.  The most affordable homes in Austin are either tiny, such as the 374 sq ft place at The Loft Condos on South 1st St., or they are far out, such as this pictured condo in Gabardine in far South Austin.  Some condos have been nicely updated, and a few are newer, but many of them resemble apartment complexes, which isn’t quite as appealing for someone who has been renting for a while and is ready for something more like a house with a small yard and a garage.  The homes that are priced under $200K tend to sell very quickly, and yet several of the recent sales at Gabardine have taken a little longer – more than 2 months – possibly due to being a little further out.  For someone making under $20/hour, or an annual salary of less than $40K, even these tiny or further out properties may be beyond their reach, unless they’ve got some assets set aside.  More affordable options are going to be found in Kyle, Buda, Pflugerville, Georgetown, Leander and to some degree, Round Rock and Cedar Park.

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