Google Set to Inhabit Austin’s Scarbrough Building

29 01 2008
Scarbrough Building. Google to office 2nd floor.

Usually I shy away from quoting an entire article in my post, but I’ll indulge myself just this once. Here’s the scoop on Google’s new digs in downtown Austin:


AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

Google is headed to downtown Austin.

The Internet search leader has leased the second floor of the historical Scarbrough Building for an engineering center, said Office Leasing Advisors Inc., the Austin firm that represented Google Inc. in the deal.

Google will occupy 25,000 square feet of the art-deco-style building at Sixth Street and Congress Avenue, Office Leasing said.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Google did not respond to inquiries about the Austin office.

In recent months, Google has posted Internet job listings for an engineering director in Austin to head up a group of 100 or more engineers. It also has posted listings seeking software engineers in Austin. The Scarbrough office could hold 125 to 150 people, according to real estate brokers.

The entrance of a high-profile, national tech player like Google is a coup for Austin’s technology industry, tech recruiters and executives said.

“Google is another marquee name in the technology world that we can say we have in Central Texas, and in addition to getting the Google name, we’ll probably get some good-paying jobs with it,” said David Porter, senior vice president of development for the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.

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The INHABIT INDEX for November 2007

17 01 2008

Inhabit Index for November 2007

The November 2007 stats have finally arrived—a year later. The stats were delayed for nearly a month due to a recent overhaul of the MLS software by the Austin Board of Realtors. The transition to the new MLS has been anything but smooth, so hopefully the December stats will arrive on time and I can share my December index early next week.

The index for the greater Austin market decreased by 5 percentage points from October to November. Remember, this graph is a high level view of the broader market. Below you’ll find a more local view and be able to discern if particular MLS areas are in a buyer’s or seller’s market.  November’s shift to 16% suggests market conditions have become more and more favorable to many Austin buyers. This is due to a large supply of active listings on the market and mortgage interest rates below 6%—though today’s report on core inflation will likely cause mortgage rates to increase in the days ahead.

Here’s the break down by MLS areas.

Related Post :: The INHABIT INDEX: How to Know When It’s a Buyer’s or Seller’s Market.

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13 New Year’s Resolutions Everyone Selling Their Home in Austin Should Make

5 01 2008

1. I resolve to acknowledge this is a good time to sell, if I’m serious about selling.

2. I resolve to decide whether or not I’m serious about selling.

3. I resolve that I’m serious about selling. I think.

4. I resolve to do some market research on the Inhabit Austin Blog to find out if my neighborhood is in a buyer’s market or seller’s market.

5. I resolve that while I was visiting the blog I found some great tips for getting my home ready to sell.

6. I resolve to contact Jason to have him come take a look at my house and present me with a comparative market analysis.

7. I resolve to pick up the house a bit before Jason gets here, because I know he will speak candidly about the things I need to do so that I can sell my home quickly and for the most money possible.

8. I resolve to seriously assess what the market is telling me and price my home accordingly.

9. I resolve to take Jason’s advice and have my home’s condition and curb appeal superior to the other homes I’m about to compete with.

10. I resolve, challenging as it may be, to maintain the home’s showing condition and continue to live in it at the same time.

11. I resolve, therefore, to follow that easy plan Jason left for me.

12. I resolve that it’s not that bad after all. And this place looks great!

13. I resolve to let Jason work his marketing magic and…. Oh wait, Jason is calling… We have an offer!

These are a few resolutions you will not regret keeping. Happy 2008!

-Jason

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Is it Cheaper to Close at the End of the Month?

31 12 2007

When you obtain a loan to purchase a home, you’re required to prepay any interest that will accrue from the date of closing until the end of the month. So, in theory, the closer your closing is to the end of the month, the less you have to pay in closing costs.

This portion of interest is charged to the buyer at closing because mortgage payments are made in arrears. Unlike paying a rent, a monthly mortgage payment actually covers the previous month. For example, if you were to purchase a home and close in January, your first mortgage payment would not be due until March 1. The payment on March 1 would cover the principal and interest owed to the lender for the month of February. For a visual illustration, take a look at the sketch above.

Regarding the prepaid interest, assume your actual closing date is January 15th. Your prepaid interest charge is as follows:

Mortgage amount:    $175,000
Annual (fixed) interest rate: 6%
Daily interest charge:    $28.68

Now compare the potential savings in prepaid interest when closing on the 31st vs. 15th.

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10 Things To Do In Austin This Christmas

10 12 2007

Zilker Trail of Lights

Are you spending your Christmas in Austin this year? Every year the city plays host to many festive shows and events throughout the holiday season. From the Zilker Trail of Lights to Ice Skating on the Plaza at Whole Foods Market, these 10 events are just a sampling of the many things to do and see in Austin this time of year.

Zilker Trail of Lights
Thru 12/23, Zilker Park
www.ci.austin.tx.us/tol/default.htm

Skating on the Plaza
Thru 1/1, Whole Foods Market (6th & Lamar)
www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/lamar/index.html/

 Santa vs. The Snowman 3D: IMAX
Thru 12/31, Bob Bullock Museum
http://www.thestoryoftexas.com/

Ballet Austin: The Nutcracker
Thru 12/23, Paramount Theatre
http://www.balletaustin.org/

Holiday Pops: Simply Sinatra
12/30-31, Palmer Events Center
www.austinsymphony.org/newspress/pr_Sinatra.asp

Hill Country Lighting Trail
www.tex-fest.com/regional/default.htm

37th Street Lights
(37th St. between Guadalupe and Home Ln.)
www.austin360.com/event/events2/etc/userEventDisplay.jspd?eventStatus=Approved&eventid=152625

The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar
Thru 12/24, Austin Convention Center
www.armadillobazaar.com

Rockin’ Christmas Party
Thru 12/30, ZACH (Riverside & S. Lamar)
www.zachscott.com/stages/rockin.html

First Night Austin 2008
12/31, Downtown Austin
www.firstnightaustin.org

photo provided by: yummiec00kies

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Should I Buy a Home In a Good School District Even If I Don’t Have Kids?

5 12 2007

Perhaps you’ve heard this before: Buy a home in a good school district even if you don’t have kids.  There’s no doubt those who choose to live in a good school district pay a premium in the form higher property taxes. So, is it really a good strategy to follow?

YES, so long as you can afford the higher taxes. Even if living near exemplary schools is not a priority for you, still consider the strength of the schools in the area in which you are searching. Generally, homes in a good school district, enjoy the benefit of healthier appreciation and less time on the market when it’s time to sell (assuming the price and condition are not more than the market will bear).

On the other hand, by purchasing in a less-reputable school district, it’s likely you will have reduced the pool of buyers down the road, namely, families searching for a home near quality schools.  

WHERE TO FIND THE BEST SCHOOLS IN AUSTIN

Great Schools is an excellent place to start. There you can browse the top-rated public and private schools in Austin, as well as, compare schools near a particular address or school district. In addition, you can find the most recent Accountability Ratings, which measure how well schools and districts within Austin are performing. Lastly, the site provides a useful platform for parents to hear what other parents have to say about their child’s experience in a particular school or district.

Here are the  Top-Rated Elementary Schools in the Austin Independent School District  for 2007.

  • Mills Elementary

  • Casis Elementary

  • Highland Park Elementary

  • Baranoff Elementary

  • Hill Elementary

  • Gullett Elementary

  • Kiker Elementary

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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 OR FALSE: DON’T BUY THE MOST EXPENSIVE HOUSE ON THE BLOCK

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?

EXCEPTION TO THE RULE

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. 

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