10 Ways Your Christmas Tree Can Live On After the Holidays

By:  at Houzz.com


Austin is the 2nd best real estate market in the country.

austin at sunsetThat’s the assessment of the Urban Land Institute, which published its annual “Emerging Trends in Real Estate” report Wednesday.

The report is based on interviews with real estate investment experts around the world and is prepared in association with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Austin has had a strong showing the past four years, but the outlook for 2015 is the best ever, especially for a secondary market. For specific sectors, Austin is ranked No. 2 for investment, No. 4 for development and No. 1 for homebuilding.

Of particular note is the fact that Austin ranked No. 1 for office investment and development — which has to be good news to active office developers includingEndeavor Real Estate Group, Cousins Properties, HPI Real Estate Services and Investment, Stream Realty Partners, Karlin Real Estate Group, Ryan Cos. andBrandywine Realty Trust. All have major office projects under construction.

The market that beat out Austin in all sectors is neighboring Houston. Dallas/Fort Worth came in at No. 5 while San Antonio was way down the list at No. 23.

“Austin has been a favorite of survey respondents for a number of years,” the report states. “Survey respondents and interviewees like the industrial base, the appeal to the millennial generation and the lower cost of doing business in Austin.”

Supply concerns potentially could have a negative impact for investors of industrial, hospitality and multifamily properties, the report added.

Austin also earns kudos for the strong representation of investors and developers that are locally based.

“The availability of capital and an active local development community should guarantee a steady flow of investment opportunities in 2015,” the report concludes.

The one sector where Austin lags behind is in industrial product. Austin is not a distribution hub and likely won’t become one, given transportation infrastructure weaknesses and the fact that no major east-west interstate highways cross through the area.

By:   at Austin Business Journal

In Austin, year-over-year housing inventory rises for first time in three years

July14-page-001After a double-digit surge in home sales last month, Austin-area home sales dipped three percent to 2,944 single-family home sales in July 2014, according to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) report released today by the Austin Board of REALTORS® (ABoR). This is the first decrease in home sales since May 2011. At the same time, monthly housing inventory increased on a year-over-year basis for the first time in three years as more listings entered the market.

Bill Evans, 2014 President of the Austin Board of REALTORS­®, explained, “July 2013 had the highest monthly home sales volume in Austin’s history, so we knew it was going to be a tough month to beat. However, there’s no denying that the Austin-area housing market has been impacted by issues in inventory and affordability. With such high demand, the Austin-area housing market cannot grow without an increasing, continually replenished housing stock, but that housing stock must also be affordable and attainable for Austin homebuyers.”

Austin-area monthly housing inventory rose to 3.0 months in July 2014, an increase of 0.2 months from the year prior and the first annual increase in inventory levels since May 2011. This was driven by an increase in available listings, as active listings jumped 12 percent year-over-year to 6,859 listings and new listings rose eight percent during the same time frame to 3,788 listings. However, Austin-area housing inventory is still well below six months, which the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University cites as a balanced market.

In addition, Austin-area home prices continued to climb with median price increasing nine percent year-over-year to $250,000 and average price rising seven percent to $318,854 in July 2014.

Evans continued, “Now, more than ever, managed growth and planned development are important for ongoing affordability and livability in Austin. As the City of Austin overhauls the Land Development Code that will dictate what development and housing is allowed as we continue to grow, we have to ask ourselves, ‘Is this the right kind of home for Austin’s housing market and do our regulations allow for it?’”

Despite higher home prices, Austin-area homes continued to sell at a faster pace. In July 2014, single-family homes spent an average 39 days on the market, two fewer days compared to July 2013. In addition, pending sales decreased four percent to 2,660 single-family home sales.

Evans concluded, “Amid questions about the direction of Austin’s market, we don’t believe this small decrease in home sales is indicative of a negative trend. The high demand for Austin real estate over the last few years continues to be fueled by strong job and economic growth in the Austin area. The issue we’re facing now is not whether Austin-area property values will fall, but whether future housing market growth in the Austin area will be stifled by a lack of affordable housing options for Austin-area homebuyers.”


July 2014 Statistics

    • 2,944 – Single-family homes sold, three percent less than July 2013.
    • $250,000 – Median price for single-family homes, nine percent more than July 2013.
    • $318,854 – Average price for single-family homes, seven percent more than July 2013.
    • 39 – Average number of days single-family homes spent on the market, two days fewer than July 2013.
    • 3,788 – New single-family home listings on the market, eight percent more than July 2013.
    • 6,859 – Active single-family home listings on the market, 12 percent more than July 2013.
    • 2,660 – Pending sales for single-family homes, four percent less than July 2013.
    • 3.0 – Months of inventory* of single-family homes, 0.2 months more than July 2013.
  • $938,706,176 – Total dollar volume of single-family properties sold, four percent more than July 2013.

The following sections describe trends in other sectors of the Austin-area real estate market.


Townhouses & Condominiums
The volume of townhouses and condominiums (condos) purchased in the Austin area in July 2014 was 336, which is four percent less than July 2013. In the same time period, the median price for condos was $204,000, which is 12 percent more than the same month of the prior year. These properties spent an average of 37 days on the market, 10 days fewer than July 2013.


In July 2014, a total of 2,110 properties were leased in Austin, which is five percent more than July 2013. The median price for Austin-area leases was $1,500, which is seven percent more than the same month last year.

Information courtesy of:  Austin Board of Realtors


The Austin Board of REALTORS® (ABoR) is a non-profit, voluntary organization dedicated to educating and supporting Central Texas REALTORS®. ABoR proudly serves more than 9,000 members, promotes private property rights and provides accurate, comprehensive property listing information for the Greater Austin area. Home sales statistics are released by ABoR on a monthly basis. For more information, please contact the ABoR Marketing Department at marketing@abor.com or 512-454-7636. Visit AustinHomeSearch.com, a public resource on Austin real estate, for the latest news on the local housing market

5 Reasons to Buy a House Right Now

Buying a house is a highly individual decision—and a local one—but current trends are creating a favorable situation for many would-be homeowners.  Interest rates are low, employment is rising, home prices—in most markets—are still well below their peaks, and rents are through the roof.  Every family and each individual have various factors affecting the ability and the decision to buy a home. If you live in a market where studio apartments are $2,400 per month—while nearby condos sell for $300,000—it might make sense to buy a house instead.

Five Compelling Reasons to Buy a House Now

1. Interest Rates Are Still Low

Mortgage interest rates are still low—for now.  A 30-year-fixed-rate loan now averages 4.16%, according to Freddie Mac, but many economists believe we will see 5% rates next year. As interest rates increase, so do your monthly payments.  A $300,000 house at 4.16% with 20% down would have a monthly payment of $1,168. With a 5% interest rate, that payment increases to $1,288.

2. There’s More Inventory

home for saleAs more houses enter the for sale market, prices stabilize.

“Inventories are at their highest level in over a year, and price gains have slowed to much more welcoming levels,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of REALTORS®.

The upside is consumers now have more choices, if they are looking at existing homes.

New homes are another story: Yun says new construction needs to double its current production to meet market demand.

3. Home Prices Are Going Up

Home prices are rising.

The median price of an existing home was $223,300 in June, or 4.3% higher than June 2013. That’s the 28th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains, and economists expect that trend to continue. However, we are still at least 20% off the peak prices of 2006.

“Attempting to buy a home when the market is at its lowest point—or to sell at the peak—is tricky,” said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for realtor.com®.

He compares it to trying to time the stock market.

“You might get lucky one or two times, but overall, timing the market does not work,” Smoke added. “It all points to purchasing power, and that’s a reflection of price and interest rates, which will both be higher in the future.”

4. Rents Are Sky-High

If you live in a big city, then you know rent is astronomical. In San Francisco, many people are spending 42% of their monthly income to pay the rent. Nationwide, rents are rising at a 4% annual clip.

It’s not unusual to see adults rooming together in expensive cities like New York, San Francisco and Chicago, but everyone needs his or her own space at some point.

Buying a home would lock in your monthly payment and stabilize your finances with a fixed-rate mortgage. This is, of course, assuming you don’t live the San Francisco area, where the average price of a home is $1 million.

(If you’re renting and never thought you could afford to buy a house, try our Rent vs. Buy calculator to see what’s possible.)

5. Employment on the Rise

Perhaps nothing is as important to the financial stability you need to buy a home as steady employment. The U.S. economy is finally adding jobs—about 200,000 new jobs per month.

The next generation of home buyers—the Millennials—has been particularly affected by the nation’s job slump. Saddled with student loans and tight lending restrictions, many in this generation have been living with their parents to save money until the economy picks up.

If your employment prospects look good these days and the other four factors check out, then it may indeed be the right time for you to buy a home of your own.


Real Estate Market Update for April 2014

Austin Board of REALTORS® reports median price for single-family homes rose six percent year-over-year to $239,900, and average price, while statistically unchanged from April 2013, rose slightly higher to $308,752. Austin-area home sales increased one percent to 2,479 single-family home sales in April 2014.

Austin-area homes continued to sell at an accelerated rate, decreasing the average days on market by five days year-over-year, down to 45 days in April 2014. At the same time, monthly housing inventory decreased 0.4 months year-over-year to 2.3 months. The market also featured two percent fewer new listings, three percent fewer active listings and six percent fewer pending sales in April 2014 compared to the same month of the prior year.

Austin Market Stats Infographic by Realty Austin

Austin Real Estate Market Snapshot - April 2014

April 2013 vs April 2014 Market Statistics

  • $765,396,208– Total dollar volume of single-family properties sold, one percent more than April 2013.
  • $239,900 – Median price for single-family homes, six percent more than April 2013.
  • 2,479 – Single-family homes sold, one percent more than April 2013.
  • 45 – Average number of days single-family homes spent on the market, five days fewer than April 2013.
  • 3,481 – New single-family home listings on the market, two percent fewer than April 2013.
  • 5,305 – Active single-family home listings on the market, three percent fewer than April 2013.
  • 2,805 – Pending sales for single-family homes, six percent fewer than April 2013.
  • 2.3 – Months of inventory* of single-family homes, 0.4 months less than April 2013.

Written By:  Realty Austin 

Top Daycation and Staycation Family Friendly Spots For Memorial Day in Austin, TX

By: Emily Pryor at RealtyAustin.com

Canyon Lake – Canyon Lakeview Resort

Canyon Lake Staycation - Realty Austin

Image by Canyon Lakeview Resort

Address: 872 Ledgerock Drive, Canyon Lake, Texas 78133

Phone: 210.787.1770

If you’re a water sports enthusiast, Canyon Lake may be the staycation for you! Named after its location, the town of Canyon Lake sits on the lake and the Guadalupe River. It has been deemed the “Water Recreation Capital of Texas” and has a ton of water activities available to keep the whole family entertained! It also offers easy access to various Hill Country attractions. Load up the water skis and make your way to Canyon Lake for a recreation filled staycation! We suggest staying at Canyon Lakeview Resort in one of their cozy cabins with spectacular views.

Enchanted Rock – Trois Estates at Enchanted Rock

Enchanted Rock Staycation - Realty Austin

Image by Trois Estates at Enchanted Rock

Address: 300 Trois Lane, Fredericksburg, Texas 78624

Phone: 830.685.3415

Truly feel “on top of the world” with this staycation spot. Climb to the top of Enchanted Rock, a 425 foot above ground natural rock formation just north of Fredricksburg in the Texas Hill Country. Since being named a National Natural Landmark in 1970, Enchanted Rock has brought in visitors from all over, attracting thousands of visitors annually. If you’re a hiking enthusiast, Enchanted Rock and its 4-mile trail may be the perfect staycation to keep you on-the-move and truly “enchanted” by the views from on top of the dome. Not sure where to stay? We think the Trois Estate at Enchanted Rock with its adobe-style rooms is a great resort to begin your staycation at Enchanted Rock!

Luckenbach Dance Hall – Old Smokehouse Cottage

Luckenbach Dance Hall Staycation - Realty Austin

Image by Full Moon Inn

Address: 3234 Luckenbach Rd, Fredericksburg, TX 78624

Phone: 830.997.2205

A summer staycation is the perfect time to get back to your country roots. If it’s been a while since you last pulled on those boots, it may be time for you to visit Luckenbach. This tiny town was made famous by Willie Nelson. The dance hall is highly rated, offering live music, plenty of dancin’ room, and a general store. Austin residents sometimes need to get away from the city that’s always changing and growing. Some say that everything is bigger in Texas, but Luckenbach is a favorite getaway spot for many because the small town hasn’t grown or changed in years. Luchenbach isn’t just a destination, it’s an experience! Plus, you never know when a Texas country legend may pop in to sing a few tunes with the local musicians. To really get back to your roots, stay at a cozy and quaint B&B, like the Old Smokehouse Cottage in Fredericksburg. Featured in Southern Living’s “Best Texas Getaways”, this cute cottage is inexpensive, pet friendly, and offers spa services.

Onion Creek – Sage Hill Inn Above Onion Creek

Onion Creek Staycation - Realty Austin

Image by Sage Hill Inn Above Onion Creek

Address: 4444 W FM 150, Kyle, Texas 78640

Phone: 800.579.7686

Onion Creek, one of Austin’s well known neighborhoods, has many activities to offer. Current Onion Creek residents can escape to Sage Hill Inn Above Onion Creek for a relaxing staycation that is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from your home. This gorgeous inn sits on top of a hill on 88 acres above Onion Creek with panoramic views of the Hill Country. This is the perfect romantic getaway with stunning sunsets and views of the stars in the nightsky unimpaired by city lights. Sit by an outdoor firepit, relax in the large jacuzzi spa, or play horseshoes with your special someone. The Duchman Family Winery is only a few miles away and is on a quest to bring world-class winemaking to Central Texas, making it a perfect date night. The land is abundant with wildlife creatures from deer to wild turkeys. If you want to keep up an active lifestyle on your staycation, the inn offers a biking trail, 25 yard long swimming pool, a bocce court, and many other attractions!

Natural Bridge Caverns – T Bar M Resort

Natural Bridge Caverns Staycation - Realty Austin

Image by Tar Bar M Resort

Address: 2549 Hwy 46 W, New Braunsfels, Texas 78132

Phone: 830.625.7738

If you need a little adventure in your life, try getting out of Austin to visit neighboring San Antonio and explore the Natural Bridge Caverns! Their newest attraction is the Canopy Challenge, a 3-in-1 activity for the whole family. The challenge has you find your way to the top of their 60-foot, 4-tier adventure course, challenge your agility and strength on 47 various obstacles including criss-cross tight ropes, and lastly, if you dare, glide high above the ground on one of their four zip lines. Natural Bridge Caverns is perfect for the dare-devil in you! They even offer a safer course for toddlers and young kids. Grab your lantern and go on a deep inner cave exploration to experience an underground world of natural beauty 180 feet below ground. This staycation is also great for large groups, so round up your friends and relatives and stay the night at T Bar M Resort’s group bunkhouse cabin! As if Natural Bridge Caverns wouldn’t keep you busy enough, this resort also offers a putting green, massage therapy, sports facilities, movies under the stars, and biking trails.


Lost Maples – The Lodges at Lost Maples

Lost Maples Staycation - Realty Austin

Image by The Lodges at Lost Maples

 Address: 77 Lower Sabinal River Rd, Vanderpool, TX 78885

Phone: 830.966.5178

Lost Maples, which opened to the public in 1979, encompasses 2,000 acres on the Sabinal River and brings in nearly 200,000 visitors each year. This is a great location for recreational activities, including hiking, birding, fishing, mountain climbing, and paddle sports. If you’re planning on booking your staycation after September to beat the summer heat, Lost Maples will wow you with its color changing leaves, which some say are more impressive than the fall foliage of New England! The dramatic color changing leaves are attributed to the unusually high concentration of maple trees in the area, making it Texas’ most vivid fall leaf coloration. The park becomes extremely crowded and often reaches full capacity during this time of year, so now is the time to book your reservations for lodging. Not sure where to stay? We think the Lodges at Lost Maples offers great room options to fit different sized families. The lodges offer residents a peaceful stay and the chance to live a simplier lifestyle for a few days in the Texas Hill Country.

Zilker Park – San Jose Hotel

Zilker Park Staycation - Realty Austin

Image by Hotel San Jose

 Address: 1316 S Congress Ave, Austin TX 78704

Phone: 512.444.7322

Austinites sometimes forget to enjoy the things that make Austin so unique in their daily hustle and bustle. Take a break, and get back in touch with one of Austin’s main attractions,Zilker Park. Located in the heart of the city, Zilker provides easy access to many other Austin attractions. Enjoy a Zilker Zephyr miniature train ride or rent a stand up paddle board on Lady Bird Lake. The Zilker Botanical Gardens is quite impressive with its 10 feautured gardens, creating a magical experience with aquatic features that have been integrated into the design of the gardens. It’s beauty and tranquility in one! Catch a concert in the Zilker Hillside Theatre, take a dip in nearby Barton Spings Pool, and meet new Austinites over recreational sports at the many disc golf courses and beach volleyball courts. To make it a true staycation, spend a night at the San Jose Hotel on South Congress Avenue. Their bungalows will pair perfectly with your outdoor staycation excursions, and just like Zilker Park, this hotel is dog friendly!

Things to Do in Austin, TX in May 2014

Posted by Realty Austin

Things to Do In Austin In May GraphicIt’s beginning to feel like summer and Austin has a lot of events to offer in May! We have compiled a list of activities, festivals, races and more for you to participate in that are uniquely Austin.

Get out to the lake, play at a park or find some indoor activities… the sky’s the limit. Annual events such as Pecan Street Festival and the Austin Fashion Week are some favorites, and there are plenty of other things to do outside, like Cap 2K Swim or the World’s Biggest Disc Golf Weekend, to make this May in Austin one to remember!

Corporate Battle of the Bands May 9
Local bands compete for the top spot as Austin’s best local band.
Pachanga Latino Music Festival May 9 & 10
This Latino Music Festival, at Fiesta Gardens on the shores of Lady Bird Lake in East Austin, will serve Austin with multiple acts like Los Lobos and Vallejo, for it’s sixth year. Enjoy latin-inspired foods and crafts as well!
Gardens on Tour May 10
Enjoy a tour of five private gardens as well as the Wildflower Center for some ideas on how to design a garden using wildflowers and native Austin, Texas plants. Could be a great way to spend a part of Mother’s Day weekend with your family!
O. Henry Pun-Off May 10
The 36th Annual Pun-Off, held at the O. Henry Museum, is filled with hundreds of storytellers and people ready to pun.
West Austin Studio Tour May 10-11 & 17-18
Mother’s Day
May 11
Nerd Nite May 14
Gather at a 6th Street bar with your fellow nerds for drinks, conversation and fun.
Bike to Work Day May 16
Leave out the carbon footprint today and enjoy the fresh air on your way to work. There will be numerous locations serving free breakfast to those that participate!
UT Commencement May 17
Congratulations to all 2014 graduates!
Mighty Texas Dog Walk May 17
Celebrate service dogs at the dog walk around the Palmer Events Center and enjoy entertainment, shopping and more inside.
Kerville Folk Festival May 22-June 8
Enjoy music, camping and more with your family at the Quiet Valley Ranch just south of Kerrville. For almost an entire month, over 30,000 people, including 1,500 singer-songwriters come together at this mecca of music.
RedFest May 23
Head out to the country music festival of the summer at the Austin 360 Amphitheater.
Fiesta Amistad May 24 & 25
El Amistad club is a non-profit civic organization in Round Rock to support efforts emphasizing education, community services, recognition for veterans and Hispanic cultural awareness. This annual event features live music, food and family entertainment.
Texas Tax-Free Appliance Weekend May 24-26
This weekend, pay no Texas taxes when you purchase any energy-efficient applainces. Go green!
Memorial Day
May 26
Capital of Texas Triathalon May 26
Swim, bike & run with thousands of others in the heart of downtown Austin. Races for all ages and running levels, so don’t be intimidated if you haven’t trained!
Trailer Food Tuesdays Begin May 27
Eat at all of your favorite Austin trailer eateries in one place on the last Tuesday of every month.
Antiques Roadshow May 28
Antique’s Roadshow makes a pitstop in Austin.
Chaos in Tejas May 29-June 1
For it’s 9th year, this festival will be full of acts of many genres, including punk, metal, hip hop, indie rock and more.
Ballet Under the Stars May 30 & 31
The Metamorphosis Dance Academy Ensemble will perform for free at the Zilker Hillside Theater for two nights only!