Should I Buy the Most Expensive House on the Block?

30 11 2007

You’ve heard the old sayings before. They’re proverbial bits of wisdom and tend to surface in most conversations concerning real estate. And they’ve been around forever. But are they really true? And if so, why?  

Recently, Texas Realtor magazine highlighted a few of these rules of thumb:

  • “Don’t buy the most expensive house on the block.”

  • “Location, location, location are the 3 most important things.”

  • “Buy in a good school district even if you don’t have kids.”


True. Generally speaking, lower-priced properties tend to pull down the value of higher-priced properties, and more-expensive properties pull up the value of lower-priced properties.”

Mark Dotzour, chief economist at The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M agrees, 

“The underlying theory is that people want to feel like they’ve moved into the nicest neighborhood they can afford. Ignoring that theory may hurt sellers on resale. If sellers have a $250,000 home, and the rest of the homes in the neighborhood are valued in the $180,000s, they’ll be competing with properties that aren’t in their neighborhood.

If all the homes in another neighborhood are worth about $250,000, buyers might think, Do I want a really nice house in a lesser-quality neighborhood or a more-moderate house in a higher-quality neighborhood?


The exception might be a property with a unique feature for the neighborhood, for example, the only house on the block that backs to the greenbelt or has a desirable view of the hill country or downtown.

Buyers, however, will want to find out if any future developments might affect or diminish this unique feature. For instance, a new phase of the subdivision could replace the greenbelt, or a new high-rise building could block the once cherished view. 

add to :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank


INHABIT INDEX for October 2007

27 11 2007

The October stats are in for the Austin real estate market. My market report contains over 50 pages of data compiled from the Austin MLS. I am happy to share the full report with anyone that loves to analyze the numbers at length, just send me a quick email. But for brevity, here is the latest look at the INHABIT INDEX for single-family homes.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the INHABIT INDEX is a tool I developed to easily gauge if overall market conditions are favoring the buyer or seller in the Austin area. If you want to know how the index is calculated check out The INHABIT INDEX: How to Know When It’s a Buyer’s or Seller’s Market

Up 4% from the previous month, the index increased as a result of more pending sales and a reduction in active listings. More pending sales translates into more homes going under contract, but the reduction in active listings can also be attributed to listings expiring or being withdrawn from the market.

Sellers should remain aware, we are still in the buyer’s zone (< 30%). Although the rate of sales increased in October, there are still a record number of available properties on the market from which buyers may choose. In fact, the current inventory is at a three year high. Bottom line, homes are still selling in Austin (some very quickly), but buyers now have a large inventory of homes to choose from and are not wasting any time by looking at homes that are in questionable condition or even slightly overpriced.

Want to know where your area or neighborhood ranks on the INHABIT INDEX? Here’s a list (and map) of how the Austin MLS areas are performing.

Read the rest of this entry »

What to do in Austin this Weekend?

16 11 2007

If you are looking for a reason to get out of the house this weekend, look no further… Here are a few events taking place that will definitely keep you entertained. Enjoy!


Take the free, self-guided tour of over 200 East Austin art studios. The theme this year is reduce your speed. What better way than to take the tour on your bicycle. Pedi-cab service will also be avalable.  Saturday, Nov 17-18, 10am-5pm.


This tour features seven galleries, three wineries and one weekend of beautiful Hill Country scenery. Sat-Sun, Nov 17-18, 10am-5pm.


Hear Barack speak at The Backyard. Sat., Nov. 17, 3pm. 13101 Hwy. 71 W,  $25


Have a piece of birthday cake and celebrate the 5th season of the Downtown Farmer’s Market. Nov 17, 9am-1pm. Fourth and Guadalupe at Republic Square Park


The Domain is ringing in a new holiday tradition this year with the lighting of the 40 ft Macy’s Christmas tree. Carriage rides, fireworks and live music to accompany. Sat., Nov. 17, 6pm. The Domain 11410 Century Oaks Terrace #210


Getting ready for those Fall home improvement projects? Hone in your skills this Saturday. Nov 17, 11am. All Home Depot locations. Register online.

INHABIT AUSTIN Real Estate Defined

15 11 2007

IN•HAB•IT \in-‘hab-bet\ 

1. To occupy as a place of settled residence or habitat.

2. To be present in or occupy in any manner or form.

AUS•TIN \aw-stuh-n\

1. The greatest city in the greatest state in the greatest country in the history of the world.

2. The place we inhabit.


With all Austin has to offer, it is no secret why more and more INHABITANTS are calling the city home. This place is rich in history, lush in nature and there’s always a great place to eat right around the corner.

Local is the native language. And it only takes a stroll down South Congress Avenue or a Gospel Brunch at Stubb’s to expand your vocabulary. Yet, words alone never fully capture the vibrant energy that permeates the air.

Whether you dwell downtown or in the surrounding areas, there is never a shortage of creative inspiration to be found. Our city celebrates culinary uniqueness, all forms of art, eclectic shopping and a sensational night life. This place is, has and always will be a destination.


INHABIT AUSTIN is a local real estate firm owned and operated by husband and wife, Jason and Shayla Groves. We opened our doors shortly after planting our own roots in this fabulous place. And ever since then, we have been giving full service to buyers and sellers of residential properties throughout the city.

What we love about Austin directly influences how we serve every one of our clients. Your lifestyle is our focus. And we are passionate about helping you find your place among the diversity Austin affords. Through exploring neighborhoods, evaluating financing options, negotiating offers and smoothly navigating the closing process our value is evident. Not to mention, our property marketing will knock your socks off!

Our approach to real estate is different. No self-indulgent mug shots on the business card or huge magnets plastered on the side of the car. Conversely, INHABIT AUSTIN thrives on personal relationships. The focus is on you, even long after we’ve signed all the papers at closing. We don’t just buy and sell, we INHABIT.

Hyde Park: Austin’s First Suburb

8 11 2007

Old Hyde Park c. 1900

A historic neighborhood situated in Central Austin, Hyde Park was originally a rural, 206 acre tract of land. Purchased by Monroe Shipe for the price of $70,000 in 1891, the land quickly became Austin’s first planned suburb (Photo: Austin History Center PICA o2628).

Convinced that Hyde Park boasted the most beautiful, healthful, and practical place for homes outside of the city limits, Shipe marketed his development as an affluent suburb featuring large, Queen Anne style residences. Attractions included a large open green space and manmade lake, the city’s first moonlight tower, free mail delivery twice a day, and smooth mudless roads.

Shipe was also responsible for implementing an electric street car service that connected the first Hyde Park residents to Congress Avenue and the central business district (shown in photo above). Early investors embraced Shipe’s vision and swarmed the new community. Lots were competitively priced at $50-$100. However, Shipe couldn’t sustain his early success in selling the remaining parcels of land.

“Despite the early promotions, sluggish land sales prompted considerable changes in marketing strategies within eight years of Hyde Park’s founding. Shipe ceased to advertise the area for the city’s elite, and instead portrayed it as a neighborhood for the middle and working classes. In response, Hyde Park’s architectural character shifted to smaller, more modest frame houses.” -Texas Historical Commission

Over the course of a century, the community has not lost its profound sense of place. The neighborhood is now considered the most densely occupied area in the urban core, and is widely touted as a proven model for traditional neighborhoods. The front porch way of life is unmistakable from the avenues. 

hyde-park-011.jpg   hyde-park-019.jpg   hyde-park-016.jpg

hyde-park-028.jpg   hyde-park-020.jpg   hyde-park-012.jpg

Contributing to the charm of the community are the walkable destinations including great, local eateries serving everything from buttermilk-dipped fries at Hyde Park Bar and Grill to vegetarian fare at Mother’s. A few other Hyde Park landmarks include Quack’s 43rd Street Bakery, Elisabet Ney Museum, Fire Station 9 and Fresh Plus Grocery.


add to :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank

Urban or Suburban: How Much Does it Cost to Own in Downtown Austin?

1 11 2007

There’s no doubt the downtown Austin buzz is growing. It seems there are more than a few people considering a lifestyle change by moving out of the suburban areas and into downtown. Until recently, there hasn’t been a large supply of downtown residential space available. Predictably, demand for condos and lofts in the urban core continues to swell.

For example, the W Hotel & Residences saw 80 percent of their units reserved within a week of breaking ground and the sales center opening its doors (1 reservation = $10,000.00 deposit per unit). That’s remarkable given the expected completion date is still 3 years away… But even if you’re not willing to wait 3 years for your condo, there are at least 10 other projects under construction and roughly 2,000 units due to be complete by the end of next year. All of this begs the question… How much will it cost to own a downtown condo?

Read the rest of this entry »