Fall 2010 Newsletter

It’s been a long time since you’ve heard from us, we know. But that’s because we have a big announcement to make. Our new website is – finally – live! And it has been consuming most of our writing energies. We have a great new map-based search and neighborhood information and our blog is coming soon!! Please take a look around and give us your feedback – we’d love to know what you think!

We can’t believe the summer has gone so fast, but the kids are back in school and we’re getting ready for a great fall for real estate. As always, please let us know if you or anyone you know needs help – we are grateful, and never too busy, for your referrals!

The Moxie Ladies (Justine and Mishell)

Rates are Low – Consider Refinancing!

Rates have again hit an all-time low (one lender told us they are the lowest he’s seen in 23 years!). If you are above 5.5% and are not planning to move in the next couple of years, this is a great time to consider a refinance of your existing mortgage. If you need a lender referral, contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

Market Update

Although there is no shortage of negative news about real estate, we are lucky to be weathering this storm here in Austin.  But, as lucky as we arem we are not immune. Home sales are down, way down (sales decreased by 18.91% compared to August 2009), but for the homes that did sell the prices are up (average sales prices increased 10.42% to $261,006 from $236,376 in August 2009). One reason the market is so contradictory right now is the traditional seasonal home buying peak came early this year — with the home buyer tax credit we saw our big jumps in sales during May and June making July and August by comparison slow.

Here at Moxie, we feel we have every reason to be positive about Austin real estate and the opportunities that exist. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Moxie has been in the top 20% of sales for our Keller Williams office (which is the largest real estate office in North America) for the last 3 months – woohoo!!!
  • The Housing Affordability Index, a standard adopted by the National Association of Realtors, measures the financial ability of consumers to buy a home. The index compiles three factors – median income (reported by the Census Bureau), median house cost and median mortgage rates. An index of 100 indicates that a family earning the median income has exactly enough to qualify for the going mortgage rate to purchase a median-priced home. The current Housing Affordability Index, as estimated by the National Association of Realtors 177.8 (nationally and 187.9 for the South), is nearly at the highest it’s ever been.
  • Also at a near-record high: the Housing Opportunity Index (HOI), as measured by the National Association of Home Builders. The HOI uses income and housing cost to determine the rate of homes sold that were considered “affordable” to families at the median income level. According to this index, 70 percent of families in the U.S. can afford to buy a home at current rates. (As a point of reference, this index was in the 40s during the real estate slump in 2006.)
  • To top it off, The Freddie Mac® Mortgage Survey shows mortgage rates are at the lowest they’ve been since the 1970s, which can literally save homebuyers thousands of dollars in the long run.

With the affordability index and opportunity index both at or near record highs, and mortgage rates the lowest they’ve been in 40 years, this as an incredible time to purchase real estate.

For additional information on specific market areas or to find out your properties current value, please contact us.

Justine’s Tips from the Farm*

Fall Fun!

The heat of summer is over (well almost) and here at “Belly Acres” are thinking about all things fall.  We were so busy this summer selling houses all over Central Texas and having all kinds of family fun (can you say Schlitterbahn season passes?) that we didn’t really do much around the house or in the garden. Shockingly all of our herbs survived and even thrived, not so much for the spring tomatoes or peppers – I think we got maybe 4 tomatoes and only 2 peppers. We were planning to put in a big fall garden and relocate all the raised beds to a sunnier location but we are just about out of time for most of the fall crops. We can still plant: lettuces, spinach, kale, Bok Choy, garlic, onions, pansies, alyssum, snapdragons, sweet peas, columbines, trees and shrubs but I really just wanted a bumper crop of sweet juicy tomatoes. For now we will leave the garden where it is, plant some greens and focus on planning the small orchard (fall is a great time to plant trees) we have wanted to put in for a while now.

Fall is also a great time for home improvements. Maintaining your home is not always fun but it’s necessary and the mild fall weather makes it the perfect time to tackle some projects. Not sure what to do? Call a home inspector who can give you a full evaluation of your home and find issues early on before they cost you big $$. Let us know if you would like a recommendation. This year we plan to tackle some foundation issues, add more insulation in the attic and under the floors, put in gutters and hopefully a rainwater system! Whew just writing that down makes me tired!

We are excited about the upcoming change of season and hope you are too!

*Justine lives on 5 acres in a rambling old farmhouse near Driftwood.  Not quite the “Pioneer Lady,” Justine shares adventures and tips from “almost” country living, but close to all the Austin action.

Austin in the News!

Of course, we think Austin is wonderful, but here are some of the latest-and-greatest press our wonderful town has received.

10 Best Cities for the Next Decade (Kiplinger’s Personal Finance): Austin tops the list of 10 best cities for the next decade, with a focus on locales that specialize in innovative thinking. Kiplinger states that Austin is arguably the country’s best growth spot for small business, offering a dozen community programs that form a neural network of business brainpower to help entrepreneurs. And don’t discount the fun factor: In the self-proclaimed live-music capital of the world, music and business creativity work together.

America’s Recovery Capitals (Forbes): Austin is emerging from the recession better than its counterparts in many areas of the country. Forbes and Moody’s analyze annual growth prospects for employment and economic output for the period 2010-14, and Austin shines!

America’s Best Cities For Young Professionals (Forbes): Austin is ranked number 10 on Forbes’ fourth-annual list of areas that boast affordability, good job prospects and larger-than-average incomes.  Among areas with at least one million population, these offer the best chances for college graduates in a tough economy.

America’s Best High Schools: The List (Newsweek): Each year, Newsweek picks the best high schools in the country based on how hard school staffs work to challenge students with advanced-placement college-level courses and tests. Just over 1,600 schools—only 6% of all the public schools in the U.S.—made the list.  In 2010, 14 Austin area high schools rank in the top 6% nationally.  The schools represent 8 different school districts and 34% of total area high school enrollments.

Wyndham hotel in Austin offers autism-aware rooms (USA Today): The Wyndham Garden Inn garners kudos for providing services to parents traveling with autistic children.

Austin Second Best City for Families (Parenting):  Good schools and climate coupled with many activities for families put Austin at the top of the heap.

And of course, who could miss: Austin #1 Sex Happy City in US (Men’s Health).  You don’t really need us to summarize that one, do you?

Fall Events

As always, we give you a list of some upcoming, Moxie-approved fun.

October 1 & 2: St. Elias Mediterranean Festival. One of Austin’s most beloved, delicious, and fun-filled festivals!

October 2 & 3: AIA Austin Homes Tour.  A self-guided tour including 12 homes in the Austin area showcasing great design by local architects.

October 15, 16 & 17: Austin Record Convention. The largest sale of recorded music in the USA. (Guess where Kevin will be!!)

October 16 & 17: Texas Book Festival.  Hear readings and attend signings with some of your favorite authors, visit the children’s chapter tent, or enjoy live music and poetry readings.

October 21-28: Austin Film Festival.  This festival brings a wide range of films and film related events to Austin.  Also generates fun parties.  (Not free, but for the film lovers of the world, probably worth it.)

October 22-24: Gem Capers 2010.  Presented by the Austin Gem and Mineral Society featuring the famous Rock Food Table, members’ mineral collections, a touch table of rocks and fossils, and a fluorescent mineral display (glow in the dark rocks).  Demonstrations such as stone faceting, wire wrapping, cabbing, fossil cleanings, polymer clay and more.  Kids activities include Wheel of Fortune, Gem Mine, Jewelry Making, and more!

November 7-9: Settlement Home Garage Sale. The prices are dirt cheap and the cause is hard to beat!!

November 22 and 23: East Austin Studio Tour. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., artists across Eats Austin will open their studios for the seventh annual tour and allow the public to come in and meet them and gain insight into their creative process. With over 100 participating events, this free event is a must for art lovers.