Our team, the Goodwin Gladiators made a great showing at the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5k run today. There were about 5,000 runners and walkers, and we won an award for having the second largest team (I think we ended up with something like 82 team members). They weather was mostly cooperative, with really high humidity but good cloud cover and a gentle breeze to cool things off. Energy was high and everyone seemed to be in a celebratory mood! We had an absolute blast, and were able to do some good for a seriously good cause: raising awareness about breast cancer and getting the dollars to fight it. Plus there was a live band, music, dancing, and more than one pink doggie!
It really was a joyous and fun event, and I look forward to doing this again next year!
This has been an incredible last few days for witnessing awe-inspiring natural phenomena for your friendly neighborhood Realtor here. Although Monday’s solar eclipse was both far bigger and way more rare an occurrence, Tuesday night I finally got to experience firsthand one of our local marvels — the emergence of Austin’s bat colony for their evening feeding!
For those unaware, Austin is home to the largest urban bat colony in North America. While we actually have several colonies around the Austin area, the most famous is the one living under the South Congress Bridge, and the best views are to be had on a bat cruise, which is how I got to experience it. (Shout outs to Premier Nationwide Lending and Capital Cruises for providing us a wonderful evening of tasty eats, adult beverages and amazing bat watching!)
Click here if you’d like to read a little more about our local bats and where and when to best see them; otherwise, I’ll just let the video below speak for itself. (Note, you don’t really need sound for the video. You’ll mostly hear a lot of Realtors and lenders exclaiming in awe — surprisingly, the bats themselves are pretty much silent!)
Amazing, no? If you’re looking for a cool experience to share with visitors, or if you’re a local like me who has never done it before (WHY did I wait SO LONG?!) I can’t recommend an Austin bat boat tour highly enough! It really is incredible.
A rare gem designed by Austin architect and builder, A.D. Stenger
On a property tour this week I had the uncommon opportunity check out an absolutely stunning, mid-century modern home designed by famed local architect and builder, A.D. Stenger. Although each one of the 100 or so homes built by Stenger from the 1940s to 1990s was unique, they share a few common characteristics in addition to their simple, modern lines, such as low pitch gable roofs, the use of clerestory windows and expansive stonework both inside and out.
Stenger homes are mainly found in the Austin neighborhoods of Rollingwood, Zilker and Barton Hills. Because they were built in some of the most prized (and expensive) areas for Austin real estate, many have been torn down over the years by folks looking to build larger, more contemporary and/or functional homes, though this has led to conflicts with the city’s Historic Landmark Commission. (Not to mention earning the ire of Stenger enthusiasts; Stenger homes enjoy an almost cult-like following among Austin architecture buffs, and with good reason!)
With only a few dozen or so of them left standing, these homes don’t often come on the market — so when they do it tends to make kind of a splash. The one I toured this week was just listed by one of our top agents and sales manager, Dorothy Palmore. It has been thoroughly and thoughtfully renovated very much in keeping with its mid-century modern aesthetic, but with contemporary conveniences and design touches added. It’s listed at a cool $1.5 million, and to my eye worth every penny — it’s out-and-out gorgeous!
Although I only had my iPhone camera with me and my limited photography skills, I think this home’s unique beauty and style still shines through:
Although not original to the home, I love the dining room light fixture and the cool pattern it casts on the ceiling:
Another stylish lighting fixture in the bright and airy kitchen, and more clerestory windows:
In the center of the home is a private zen-like atrium, open to the live oak trees above.
Or if you’re feeling more like entertaining than meditating, the home features a wet bar nestled in between the kitchen and living room:
This property really is sublime. If you’d like more information about it or to schedule a showing, please contact Dorothy Palmore at 512-925-0045.
In case you don’t happen to be regularly clicking on my About Real Estate page for market updates (or my Facebook page, or otherwise following along), I’m re-posting this EYE-POPPING headline I put up earlier from the most recent Central Texas Housing Market Report put out by the Austin Board of Realtors: in May we reached an ALL-TIME HIGH of $1.2 BILLION (yep, you read that correctly — that’s Billion with a big, fat B) in home sales!
From the report:
“Coupled with rising home prices, this recent surge in home sales activity made May 2017 the highest-grossing month for Central Texas real estate in the region’s history. For the first time this year, single-family home sales dollar volume topped $1 billion ($1,234,217,617) in a single month within the five-county area, which is an increase of 18.4 percent from May 2016.”
(And this figure excludes most new home construction, which is similarly experiencing phenomenal growth. New home construction in Austin is at its highest level since 2007.)
This is obviously very exciting news for sellers. But on the flip side, this trend may be prompting you to ask a very reasonable question: Is this another real estate bubble which might burst in spectacularly messy fashion? We all remember what the country went through less than a decade ago when that housing bubble burst.
So is this another bubble?
The short answer, in my humble opinion, is no. Or at least not in the way it was in 2008-2010; it’s not a bubble created by a whole host of factors which created an artificial inflation of the market, as was the case back then.
The longer answer should include what is a driving force for this increase: job growth. (Or as my broker like to say: Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!) Austin’s current job growth rate of 2.9% puts us in place as the 10th fastest growing major metro area in the country.
“The U.S. News & World Report named Austin as the “Best Place to Live in the U.S.” in 2017. Savills calls Austin “one of the 22 Cities at the Forefront of Global Tech” while SmartAsset named Austin as one of the “10 Best Cities to Raise a Family”. Austin also comes in 3rd on Gallups’ “Good Jobs Rate” ranking based on the percentage of adults who work for an employer full-time. Indeed ranked Austin No. 4 on its “25 Best Cities for Job Seekers” list.”
Dang — if I didn’t already live here I’d definitely want to move to Austin after reading all that!
So to sum it all up: with great livability, high consumer confidence, low unemployment, solid job growth and considerable planned expansion coming to the area, I’d say it’s likely that our housing market will remain strong for the foreseeable future. (Barring any big national economic crash, anyway — OH NO, I hope I didn’t just jinx us!) 😉
And finally, to any buyers sitting on the fence I’d say, “Come on in — the water’s fine!”
I don’t want to hear anybody saying they’ve got nothing to do this weekend
Our Austin events calendar is usually pretty full — let’s face it: Austin is a VERY happenin’ city — but this weekend seems particularly packed with all kinds of cools goings-on. Enough to warrant a post in my little blog, at least.
Presented without prejudice and in no particular order, here’s what’s going down this weekend in the ATX:
Eeyore’s Birthday — No, not exactly a kids’ event, though there’s a little something for everybody (and it’s decidedly Austin-weird).
Annual Dragon Boat Festival & Races — A family-friendly event, with music and dance performances, martial arts demonstrations, Taiko Drums, Lion Dance and a Kids’ Zone with special activities for children. All that, plus dragon boat races on Lady Bird Lake!
Vintage Market Days of Austin-Hill Country – A vintage inspired open-air market in Dripping Springs featuring original art, antiques, clothing, jewelry, handmade treasures, seasonal plantings and more tasty eats.
Mommy, Daddy & Me Book Club — Featuring children’s book author Yolanda King, this book club encourages children to read with their parents.
I absolutely love living in Austin, and especially so at this time of year. I love seeing the live oak, cedar and pecan trees get their leaves back, and all the gorgeous wildflowers come out alongside Texas’ back roads and highways (thanks, Lady Bird Johnson). Taking pictures of your children in a glorious field of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush is pretty much an obligatory exercise for local parents, as my Facebook feed will attest to every year at this time.
On a particularly fetching day last week I decided to play hooky (or do “location scouting” as I like to call it) and headed out with my camera for a road trip throughout the surrounding Hill Country area just to see what all was abloom.
I got off the main highway just outside of town and made my way up and down whatever roads struck my fancy. These horses grazing in a field of bright yellow caused me to stop in the middle of the road to take their picture — of course, part of the beauty of traveling on back roads means you can easily get away with this.
The first part of the day was overcast but the clouds still made for some dramatic scenery.
The afternoon skies were perfect and blue with scattered puffy clouds, which made for some cool lighting. The shadows playing on this field as I was driving past caught my eye.
Staying on the back roads I made my way past the Pedernales River, which was flowing nicely and looked very inviting. (Yes, I also stopped in the middle of the bridge to take this picture.)
While much of my day was spent going wherever the road took me, I did have one destination picked out for certain: Hamilton Pool Preserve, which, if you’ve never been, NEEDS to be on your list of places to check out in the Austin area! It was my first time to go, and it’s an amazing spot.
If you’re unfamiliar, Hamilton Pool is a natural spring, appropriately located just outside Austin in Dripping Springs, Texas. Jade green in color, it’s fed by an underground river and is surrounded by lush growth, making for an inviting spot for hiking, swimming or just hanging out. The remains of a natural dome that covered the grotto before its collapse more than a century ago provides a deep shady overhang, complete with waterfall. It really creates a stunning display, and makes me wish I were a better photographer to be able to truly capture the beauty of the area.
Depending on certain bacteria levels the pool is not always open for swimming, which was the case when I went. But when swimming is allowed it is quite a popular swimming hole! There is a bright white sandy beach area, which stands in stark contrast to the green water and blue sky.
It’s only about a 30-40 minute drive from Austin, and to get down to the pool there is a relatively easy 1/4 mile or so hike from where you park. If you’re visiting during the months of May – September you must make a reservation to get in, and outside of those times you may run into a waiting line on the weekends as only a certain number of visitors are allowed in to the preserve at any given time. But if you do like me and go mid-week in April you can pretty much waltz right on in, which is why I’m kind of ashamed of myself for not having gone before this. (Travel note: bring cash or a local check to pay the $15 parking fee; they do not accept plastic and the nearest ATM is 5 miles away.)
Again I’ll say, if you haven’t gone do make a point to do so. You won’t be disappointed.
I wrapped up my day’s adventure at sunset, thoroughly pleased with the whole outing and especially happy to visit some new places. We are so fortunate to have so many gorgeous sites to visit right in our back yard — it makes me even more glad to live where I do, and to have a job where I can take advantage of them from time to time!
My friend Glen, who is an amazing photographer and a bit of a night owl, sent me some really beautiful nighttime shots he took around the city that I have to share.
So without further ado…
Check out this shot of the Austin skyline. It was taken on the shores of Town Lake, with the South 1st Street Bridge in the near distance. I love the lights, and the color of the sky:
This is our State Capitol building in downtown Austin:
And one of my all time favorites is this shot of the statue of Austin’s own musical legend Stevie Ray Vaughn (may he rest in peace) at Auditorium Shores on Town Lake:
And there’s this one, highlighting some of the more colorful places on 6th Street, a part of downtown Austin known for its drinking establishments and live music venues as well as body piercing/tattoo shops, which can be an often under-appreciated side effect of a night of serious drinking:
And finally, a local landmark known for its hipster (way before it was hip) style, phallic-shaped neon sign, and its amusing and oft-changing readerboard — the Austin Motel on South Congress:
Austin is an extremely photogenic city. It’s a cityscape photographer’s dream, especially when viewed during the hours when most folks are still tucked away at home in their jammies.
I love seeing my city in a way I almost never do, and I hope y’all enjoyed as well. Thanks, Glen!