Setting Records

Is this another housing bubble?

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.

As reported in the Austin Jobs Postings Report for May, unemployment is at 3.2% (nationwide we are at 4.3%) and more jobs are coming; several companies have announced expansion plans in the area.  To quote from the report:

“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 here after reading all that!

So, summing up: with consumer confidence high, unemployment low, 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!”

 

What to do? What to Do?

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).

Austin Bookstore Crawl — Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day in style!

Beast of the East Backyard BBQ Cook Off —   The name says it all.

Austin Food & Wine Festival — Food, wine, sunshine.*  What else do you need?  (*Okay, the sunshine might not happen.  Best two out of three.)

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!

National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day — Barkworthie’s Chews Rescue program will be funding adoptions for all eligible dogs this weekend through Austin Pets Alive.

Jazz & Art on Main — This event in Cedar Park features arts & crafts, live music & tasty eats.

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.

The Grease & La La Land Double Feature Sing Along — Double feature movies, music & singing at the Blue Starlight Drive-In — what could be more fun than that?

Daniel Tosh — The star of Comedy Central’s Tosh.0 is appearing at the Frank Erwin Center.

Now, I don’t want to hear anybody saying they’ve got nothing to do this weekend!  Even if the weather is looking kinda iffy…  🙂

Have fun out there, y’all, and be safe!

 

Springtime in Central Texas

Time to get your bluebonnets on

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.

Central Texas Flower Child

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.

Back road in Burnet County

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.

Ponies & wildflowers

The first part of the day was overcast but the clouds still made for some dramatic scenery.

Windmill & wildflowers

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.

Live oak trees, cloud shadows and green fields

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.)

Crossing the Pedernales River

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.

Hamilton Pool

If you’re unfamiliar, Hamilton Pool is 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.

Behind the main waterfall at Hamilton Pool

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.

Hamilton Pool, taken from the beach area

It’s only about a 30-40 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.

Sunset on a back road

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 backyard — 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!

Happy trails, y’all!

 

Austin by Night

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!

Photography credits:
Glen Thuncher
Thuncher Photography

Just Keep Swimming

One day you’ll be in your ocean

WELCOME, WELCOME, WELCOME!

You’ve landed at my blog, either by intent or accident — and I’m happy to have you!

I started this blog as sort of a catch-all spot to post all kinds of random stuff I’d like to pass along, most of it pertaining to Austin real estate (my own business in particular or market info in general) or interesting/funny tidbits about Austin … or gardening tips, home decor/design ideas, places you should check out, coming events, notes about the weather, or pictures from in and around Austin I happen to like.

Like this one, which I took outside the Palmer Events Center a few weeks ago:

emma-long-ctr

Or this one, of the beautiful Brandy (my son’s dog) playing at Bull Creek Park (Austin being a very pet-friendly city):

brandy-at-bull-creek

Please feel free to leave me your comments or questions or, even better, reach out to me if you’d like to chat about real estate.

If you want to talk about purchasing a home (either now or in the future, for your primary residence or as an investment property), listing your home for sale, or just finding out what your home is worth, these are all things I’d be delighted talk with you about!

You can also check out my Facebook page by clicking the link in the side-bar (and don’t be shy about hitting that LIKE button once you get there — it makes me feel good)!

Sunshine & Graffiti
Austin: Keeping it real, keeping it weird at the Hope Outdoor Gallery

And in the mean time, like the unknown artist at Austin’s graffiti wall says above, “Just keep swimming. One day you’ll be in your ocean.” 

I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I think it’s profound.