To-Dos: Your March Home Checklist

With the first day of spring coming up on March 20, the time has come in many areas to start shedding winter layers and encourage new growth. Whether the view out your window this month is of a snowy wonderland or something springy and green, these 10 to-dos should help you get in the spring spirit.

 

By:   at Houzz.com

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Austin leads the way in downtown job growth

austin riverAlthough most newcomers choose to live a suburban life, job growth in Central Austin is now outpacing job growth in the suburbs, according to a new report from City Observatory, a Portland, Oregon-based think tank.

In fact, Austin now leads all other U.S. cities in terms of the percentage of its overall workforce working downtown and in downtown job growth.

According to the report titled “Surging City Center Job Growth,” the downtown-oriented job growth in Austin mirrors trends seen in metro areas across the nation, reversing suburban-oriented job growth trends that stretch back more than 50 years.

As recently as the five years from 2002 to 2007, job growth was still suburban-oriented around U.S. cities. Then, job growth in suburban areas was growing at about 1.2 percent annually, compared to 0.1 percent in urban cores. But between 2007 and 20011, a switch happened, with job growth in urban cores rising to 0.5 percent annually, while suburban jobs shrank by 0.1 percent.

In Austin, the urban core job growth flip has been more dramatic. Between 2002 and 2007, city-center job growth in Austin was about 0.6 percent annually and suburban job growth was about 3.1 percent annually. Between 2007 and 2011, though, city center job growth in Austin surged to 3.4 percent annually while suburban job growth slowed to 2.3 percent annually. That’s the fastest-growing urban core job growth in the nation in that time. Austin, with 28.8 percent of its jobs located in the urban core, now has the highest level of core employment in the nation, ahead of even New York City, which only has about 23 percent of its employment in its urban core.

But while Austin’s new jobs are moving downtown, Austin’s overall population growth has, recently, been driven by growth in the suburbs, a fact underscored in a recent Austin Business Journal cover story that found that more than 62 percent of the Austin-area’s population growth since 2010 has been centered in about 54 suburban census tracts, with the fastest growing areas being Pflugerville, Round Rock and San Marcos.

 

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Home Prices Are Rising: Yea! But That Also Means Higher Costs

If you’re like most homeowners, rising home prices mean you can finally let out the breath you’ve been holding since the start of the economic downturn — especially if you’re hoping to sell.

mortgagesWould you mind terribly if I added a little cloud to your silver lining?

Rising home prices might mean higher bills for you in the coming year because:

  • Your property taxes will rise unless your tax rate falls.
  • You’ll need higher limits on your homeowners insurance coverage to compensate for your higher home value.

Fortunately, you can do a few things now to reduce your tax bite, keep your insurance costs as low as possible, and continue your exhale of relief.

Property Tax Appeals

You pay your property taxes based on a formula that generally uses your home’s assessed value multiplied by the tax rate. When you home value rises, if the tax rate doesn’t fall, your taxes rise.

Take, for example, a property tax rate of $1 per $1,000 of home value:

  • You owe $100 when your home is worth $100,000.
  • You owe $110 when your home value rises to $110,000.
  • To keep your tax bill at $100 when you home value rises to $110,000, the tax rate has to fall to about 90 cents per $1,000.

Given the sorry state of most local and state government budgets, I wouldn’t count on the tax rate going down. Instead, work to get your home value assessed as low as possible by filing a property tax appeal arguing the taxing authority has over-stated your home’s value.

Here’s how you do it: When your home’s tax assessment arrives in the mail, contact your REALTOR®, tell her you want to appeal your assessment, and ask her to pull the last three comparable home sales for you. If those sales were lower than your home’s assessed value, you use those comparable sales as evidence that your home is worth less than the tax man says it is.

Also ask your REALTOR® if she knows of any tax discounts (some jurisdictions offer discounts to owner occupants or senior citizens).

Homeowners Insurance Discounts

When your homeowners insurance renewal comes in the mail, call your insurance agent and ask if you can earn a discount for:

  • Increasing your deductible.
  • Membership in an affinity group like AARP or because of where you work.

Focus on the Silver Lining

If those cost-cutting measures don’t work, focus on the silver lining. An extra couple hundred a year in property taxes and insurance isn’t much compared with gaining thousands in home equity that you can use to finance your child’s education, start a business, fund your retirement, or just put in your pocket when you sell.

By: Dona Dezube

Courtesy of: House Logic

F1 Weekend Parties & Events, from 365 Things to do in Austin, Texas

Friday, November 15th

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Saturday, November 16th 

Sunday, November 17th

Courtesy of 365 Things To Do In Austin, Texas

By: Kristy Owen

Austin Added 23,800 Jobs in the 12 months Ending in August, making it the 12th Best Performing Job Market in the U.S.

capitol grounds

  • Austin’s government sector saw modest growth over the last 12 months by gaining 800 jobs or 0.5%. Overall, private sector job growth in the Austin MSA was robust at 3.5%, adding 23,000 jobs with all but two private industry divisions contributing to the growth.
  • Texas saw net private sector job growth of 2.7% with all private industry divisions but one adding jobs over the last 12 months. As with Austin, total job growth statewide was lower, 2.4%, due to the relatively slight growth (0.6%) in the government sector, which accounts for 16.5% of total state employment.
  • In the U.S., private sector growth was 2.0% for the 12 months ending in August with all private industries adding jobs. However, overall job growth was a more modest 1.7% because the government sector lost jobs (-0.4%).
  • Total U.S. jobs remain 3.2 million or 2.3% off the peak of November 2007. Jobs in both Texas and Austin peaked a year later. Austin is now 63,400 jobs (8.1%) ahead of its pre-recession peak jobs total. Texas now has 476,100 jobs or 4.5% more than the level seen in November 2008.
  • In Austin:
  • The industry adding the most jobs and seeing the fastest growth was professional and business services, which grew by 7,400 jobs or 5.9% over the last 12 months.
  • Financial activities lost 1,700 jobs or 3.7%. On a year-over-year basis, this industry has seen negative growth five of the last eight months.
  • Manufacturing employment was also down, by 300 jobs from August 2012.
  • In Texas:
  • Construction grew fastest, at 4.9%, and added 42,600 jobs.
  • The next two fastest growing industries both grew by 4.1% Professional and business services grew by 58,600 jobs and leisure and hospitality grew 45,600 jobs over the last 12 months.
  • Information also grew relatively fast, by 3.2% and added 6,300 jobs.
  • Manufacturing’s growth was weakest, only 0.1%.
  • In the U.S.:
  • Professional and business services grew fastest, by 3.4%, and added the most jobs (621,000).
  • Leisure and hospitality, construction and natural resources, and retail trade also grew relatively fast, gaining 3.0%, 2.8%, and 2.7% respectively in the 12 months ending in August.
  • Unemployment:
  • In July, Austin had the fourth lowest rate of unemployment among the 50 largest metros at 5.2%. Austin’s rate one year ago was 5.9%.
  • The rate in July for Fort Worth was 5.9% and 6.1% in Houston.
  • The statewide rate is now 6.3%, compared to 6.9% in August of last year.
  • The August national rate at 7.3% is improved over the rate a year ago of 8.2%.

1813 Creek Ledge in Round Rock offered at $238,900

1813 Creek Ledge:

  • 4 bedrooms
  • 2.5 baths
  • 3 living rooms
  • cul-de-sac location
  • Round Rock ISD
  • Close to Dell

 

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For More information on this listing or to for help finding a home in Austin, Texas contact Ruth Powers at Realty Austin:

ruth@realtyaustin.com

512.964.3434