Winter 2010 Newsletter

As 2010 ends, we wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your support.  We know that picking a realtor can be a hard decision, and we appreciate your trust in us.  Just like every other business, Moxie had ups and downs in 2010, but if there was one consistent bright spot, it was the relationships we formed with you.

We also wanted to share our latest business news.  Effective December 1, we have become part of the Horizon Real Estate family.  For more than a decade, Horizon Realty has been committed to insuring a positive experience for home buyers and sellers in Central Texas.  With over 70 of Austin’s finest real estate agents, Horizon provides an uncommon level of integrity, knowledge, and professional service that we think fits perfectly with the level of service that Moxie strives to provide for its clients.

We are really excited about joining Horizon and the support and opportunities it will bring to Moxie.  Horizon has been responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in commercial and residential real estate sales and agents rarely leave.  Horizon’s core values – Integrity, Client Satisfaction, Agent Support, Community Enrichment, and Fun – are embodied by Christine Choate, Horizon’s broker, who we clicked with immediately.

What does this mean for your real estate needs or your referrals?  That you will continue to receive the same – or better – level of service and focus on your needs that you expect from the Moxie Ladies.

We hope to continue building our relationships with you in 2011, and wish you a wonderful holiday season and the very best New Year.  Without you, we would not have the business that we do – a business that we love.  Thank you.

Warmest regards,
Justine and Mishell
The Moxie Ladies
– A referral is the highest compliment you can give us.  We will take great care of anyone you send our way.

Moxie Supports Austin Habitat for Humanity and Legal Build

Moxie is proud to be a sponsor of the Austin Bar Association’s 2010-2011 Legal Build partnership with Habitat for Humanity (for those of you who don’t know, Mishell is also a practicing attorney).  The Build kicked off its fundraising efforts with a special event at Justine’s Brasserie that raised the “seed” money to raise the roof for the Habitat home, which will be built in the late spring.

Austin Habitat plays an important role in providing affordable housing for Austinites.  To qualify for a Habitat home, a family completes nearly 400 hours of “sweat equity” building homes with Habitat and takes 24 hours of housing counseling.  They are then responsible for paying the mortgage on their home – just like all of us.

Moxie represented at the kick-off, with Mishell emceeing the event and Justine there for much-needed moral support.  The homeowner of the last Legal Build home (who assures us that, even though it was built by lawyers, it’s still standing) spoke to the crowd about her experience with Habitat and the Build.

We thought we’d share some pictures from the evening.  Moxie looks forward to its continuing work with Habitat!  If you want information about Legal Build or Habitat, contact Mishell.

City of Austin Down Payment Assistance Program

Don’t miss out if you qualify – we had several buyers participate in this wonderful program in 2010!!

The Down Payment Assistance Program (DPA) provides qualified, first-time homebuyers with a zero interest loan to assist with purchasing a home located within the Austin City Limits. DPA funds cover the down payment and eligible closing costs and pre-paid expenses associated with buying a home. The City offers two DPA options:

  • Standard DPA: Up to $10,000 in a deferred, forgivable, 0% interest loan for 10 years. Up to $1,000 additional for borrowers in a Mortgage Credit Certificate Program, and up to $4,999 for people with disabilities. The loan is forgiven if the borrower remains in the home ten (10) years without transferring title. Otherwise the loan is due and payable if the borrower sells, leases, transfers title, refinances, gets a home equity loan, or pays off the first lien within ten (10) years.
  • Shared Equity DPA: Up to $40,000 in a deferred,0%-interest loan for 30 years. A borrower must repay back the DPA loan plus a percentage of their equity (a percentage equal to Austin’s contribution) when the borrower sells, leases, refinances, gets a home equity loan, pays off the first lien, or otherwise transfers title within 30 years. When selling the home, the borrower agrees to give Austin the chance to purchase the house at market rate (“right of first refusal”).Are you eligible?  To take advantage of this great opportunity, you must be a first-time homebuyer, a citizen or legal permanent resident, and whose entire household earns no more than 80% of the Austin’s Median Family Income, established by the federal government.  All borrowers must also complete the Housing Smarts homebuyer education classes before their lender submits the DPA application.

Contact Moxie for more information and to get started with your DPA application!

Moxie Austin Market Update

Sales volume continues to drop, although prices continue to rise.

  • $194,990 – Median price for single-family homes, up three percent from 2009.
  • 15,228 – Single-family homes sold, down five percent from 2009.
  • 74 – Days on market, down five percent from 2009.
  • 10,497 – Active single-family home listings on the market, up 10 percent from 2009.
  • 17,235 – Pending sales for single-family homes, down six percent from 2009.*

*ABOR statistics, as of October 2010

According to John Horton, Chairman of the Austin Board of REALTORS®, “Higher priced homes have continued to sell well over the last few months. This trend has been a driver in the steady increases in the median and average prices the market has experienced during the same period.”

Horton explained, “It has been a unique year in evaluating trends in the real estate market due to the impact of the expired homebuyer tax credits. Monthly comparisons are still being skewed by the artificial stimulus the tax credits provided.”

Horton added, “The market is still providing exceptional opportunities for buyers as we approach the end of the year. Increased active listings throughout the month provide buyers with a good selection of homes to choose from. This, combined with stable home prices and historically low interest rates, makes it a great time for those looking to purchase.”

Interest rates are starting to move up, so if you are considering buying, this is a great time.  Moxie does not think rates will get any lower than they are now.

Justine’s Tips from the Farm*

This month I just want to share my favorite holiday cookie with everybody. Kevin makes dozens and dozens of these every year and I start to crave them right about now. The cornmeal gives them a great texture and the buttery shortbread-like dough is perfect with the tart cranberries! Enjoy!

In a large bowl mix 1c flour, 1c cornmeal, 2tsp baking powder, and 1/2tsp salt. In a larger bowl, cream 2 sticks of butter with 3/4c sugar. Add one egg and 1tsp vanilla. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet and stir in 1 1/2c dried cranberries and grated zest of 2 medium oranges.

Shape rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls; roll in sugar. Place 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets; flatten slightly with hand.

17 min at 350 degrees and you have yourself some delicious, festive treats to share!

*Justine lives on 5 acres in a rambling old farmhouse near Driftwood.  In her column she shares the ups and downs of country life and lessons she’s learned.  Think of her as the hotter, hipper Heloise!

Did You Buy in 2010?? File Your Homestead Exemption Form in January

A homestead exemption removes part of the value of your property from taxation, lowering your property taxes.  For example, if your home is valued at $100,000 and you qualify for a $15,000 exemption, you pay taxes on your home as if it was worth only $85,000.

To qualify, you must own and reside in your home on January 1 of the tax year.  For 2010 buyers, your first homestead year is 2011 (you got a credit from the seller for 2010 taxes at closing; the tax bill that you will get in December/January will not include the homestead exemption, as you  are not entitled to it this year).  To make sure you get this benefit, you need to send a Homestead Exemption form to your appraisal district between January 1 and April 30, 2011.  No reason to wait though!  The form is available here:

Travis County
Williamson County
Hays County

If you need another county, just let us know!

Winter Events in and Around Austin

Some special holiday ideas from the Moxie Ladies:

December 2 -24:The Blue Genie Art Bazaar. It’s the 10th anniversary of this wonderful event, which features the work of over 100 local and regional artists and artisans! Don’t miss this year’s special events – including movies and live music.

December 10-18: The Nutcracker.
This holiday tradition returns as Texas’ longest running production of The Nutcracker takes the stage for its 48th year.

December 15 -24: Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. An art fair and music festival rolled into one, this has long been Austin’s favorite scene for holiday shopping – Austin, style – in search of imaginative, handcrafted gifts that range from sophisticated to funky.

December 18: Grown Folks Roll Adult Skating Party. Come to skate or dance to old school R&B music at the largest indoor roller skating rink in Central Texas. The third Saturday of every month, adults only.  9 p.m. – midnight.

December 17-26: Radio City Christmas Spectacular. The Rockettes bring their well-known precision dance from Radio City Music Hall to Austin. During the Christmas season, these amazing women perform five shows a day, seven days a week, and have been a holiday tradition for 75 years.

New Year’s Resolution Time??

Take a look at some of the fun and fabulous only-in-Austin opportunities to learn something new!

Stitch Lab
Learn to sew or just add new skills.  These ladies make it look easy!  January classes include Dress or Skirt of the Month, Felt Fun, or Aprons.  Check out their schedule of classes — they are ALL sew cool!!

Their take out is always wonderful and the classes are amazing.  Sign up fast for Thai Favorites, Thai Street Food or Thai Vegetarian because the first couple of January classes are already full!

AMOA Laguna Gloria Art School
Painting, Sculpture or Photography  – they have it all. The Large Scale Garden Sculpture and Large Scale Photographic Collage classes sound like a blast!

Dougherty Arts School
From classes for the kids to working with Jewelry and Metals Dougherty has been a part of the Austin community for decades.  If you haven’t taken a class there yet or seen one of their exhibits – make it happen in 2011! When Dixon was little, he took classes there and it always sounded like he was saying the “dirty art school” – that made for some interesting conversations!!