So I’ve been blogging for over four years about homes at Mueller Austin, and I’m coming up on four years living there. It was time for a change, so I have moved my future blogging efforts to a new platform. I’ll still talk about home prices, listings coming up and the new homes being built. It’s just time to host my content elsewhere.
There’s a shift in the development that is happening with the 2012 Section 6, and I’ll write more about that over there. For now, here’s a picture of me outside Lake Park in Mueller, and a large image with my new website address. You can click on it and head on over there for the latest and greatest. Thanks!
At the start of September 2012, HEB and Catellus made their announcement ending literally years of uncertainty as to who the grocery tenant would be at Mueller. The grocery has long been a hot topic for current and future residents – the Neighborhood Association meeting that Greg Weaver attended two years ago to discuss grocery and town center plans was heavily attended. So we’re excited there’s a store, where is it?
It’s going to be in the market district, which doesn’t exist yet beyond the gleam in a master development planner’s eye and a few diagrams. It’s going to be on the outskirts of the neighborhood. The original plan saw a grocery co-located with the Town Center, but it split off to Berkman and 51st Street to allow surface parking. America isn’t apparently ready for small town grocery yet.
So it will be easily accessed from I35 via the 51st Street exit – which places it convenient for northerly areas like Windsor Park and University Hills whose nearest HEB is the one at Springdale Plaza. It’s also an easy route from the bulk of the residential part of the neighborhood – Berkman only extends as far as Simond Avenue (venue for the Mueller House Condominiums) right now, though has been planned as a major thoroughfare – even having provisions and scale for a streetcar, should that transpire.
Personally, I like the idea of a HEB. They’ve given me free bananas and bagels every time I’ve finished a running race in Austin, and I like the mix of everyday stuff like Diet Coke along with the Central Market organic range. And they’re local.
Garreth Wilcock is an expert in homes at Mueller Austin and represents buyers and sellers of residential real estate there. See all new Mueller homes for sale at his other blog.
A friend of mine is refinancing his home due to the all time record mortgage rates right now. He isn’t using my favorite Austin lender which is a shame, and his appraisal came out jaw-droppingly low. I mean, not even in the ballpark of what I think his home is worth.
The interesting thing I learned at a recent class is that real estate appraisals are allowed to vary by 3% and still be considered the same. Crazy, but a product of the inexact science of home valuation – a home has so many variables that affect it’s market value – what someone is willing to pay for it – number of rooms, finish, construction quality (and perhaps more insidiously – the apparent construction quality), direction the lot faces and a multitude of other factors.
So it got me to thinking. I recently referred a client to another agent who better served his market, and in selling his home, the agent recommended getting an appraisal before choosing the list price. It makes sense right – if the buyer is going to get a loan (over 80% right now do) then their lender is going to get an independent appraisal of value, and this has to meet the contract price for the transaction to move forward smoothly. Now, the lender isn’t going to use the appraisal the seller paid for – they have to order an independent one. But it’s an extra data point that can help inform pricing.
Why don’t you just choose the list price the agent or the seller wants? For a home to be in the market, it has to be priced appropriately. Over-pricing in a flat or down market leads to worse results for a seller. And even if you get a buyer willing to pay over market value, their lender’s appraiser won’t condone it.
Also, not all agents like selling homes, some just like listings – homes for sale. I know that’s not ethical, but some agents like to have a sign with their name on it sat on a busy street for any prospective buyer to see, along with a giant phone number for prospective buyers to call. If the buyer doesn’t buy the overpriced home on the busy street, the agent whose face appears on the sign can sell them one of the 11,000 other homes available. And the longer that piece of personal marketing is out there, the agent gets to meet more and more buyers. The seller just gets relegated to second, third or fourth priority.
If there are three agents being interviewed to list a home, most sellers will be flattered by a high listing price from Agent A, rather than a realist selling price from Agent B. So that impacts the listing price that some agents will work with for a given home. As it is put so neatly in the Appraisal Tips For Consumers paper:
“Unlike some other real estate professionals, the appraiser performs a professional service for a fee rather than for a commission contingent on the value conclusion, the approval of a loan or the eventual sale of the property”
So should you get an independent appraisal as part of listing your home for sale? I think it’s a vital and independent data point. Whether you choose to do so before interviewing an agent is another matter.
Can your agent use the appraisal in your marketing? If it’s to your advantage, there’s nothing to say you can’t say “recently appraised at $xxx” and add the appraisal to your marketing materials. One of the big problems I see with people trying the FSBO approach is that they don’t have access to comparable sales data and don’t price their homes appropriately. If you’re going to sell your home FSBO, get an appraisal and put the sales price information out there.
Garreth Wilcock helps people sell their Mueller homes. He is an EcoBroker which means he has additional training and experience in helping people buy and sell green homes, and has a higher than average interest in the environment and cardboard recycling
Does the cash buyer of a home at Mueller get a better deal than the buyer purchasing with a loan? I took a look at the stats for Austin – where 764 out of 4179 MLS sales in the last 12 months were cash buyers, (18%) and compared it to the market at the old airport, and it turns out that although there are a higher proportion of cash buyers at Mueller, it is not a statistically significant number.
Follow the link to read more about the implications of selling to a cash buyer.
A quarter of homes in Mueller Austin are in the affordable program – an income qualified scheme which subsidizes housing and allows owners to participate in a shared equity appreciation. If they sell, they get profit proportional to their ownership. If home values go down, there is no penalty on sale. So in essence, there is no down side from a financial perspective, the only challenge is the qualification, but there’s some slight good news on that front.
Are Mueller Affordable Homes More Affordable in 2011? Yes – due to slightly higher earning limits and the resale market having different restrictions.
The income qualification for the new homes is to earn 80% or less of the Austin Median Family Income for your given family size. The City of Austin raised its median income to $74,900 in 2011 from $73,800 in 2010. The new data was released June 1st 2011 though it isn’t live on the City’s website yet. For reference, the maximum qualifying income for the Mueller program is now:
2011 New Affordable Home Income Limits by Family Size
1 person: $41,950 2 people: $47,950 3 people: $53,950 4 people: $59,900
5 people: $64,700 6 people: $69,500 7 people: $74,300 8 people: $79,100
While this isn’t very different to last year, there are some people I’ve been working with who earned just a shade too much and weren’t able to qualify for one of the new David Weekley Affordable Garden Homes or the Standard Pacific Affordable Mueller House Condominiums. The news for resale affordable homes is that the income limits are actually 120% of the median, which means the following limits:
2011 Resale Affordable Home Income Limits by Family Size
1 person: $62,925 2 people: $71,925 3 people: $80,925 4 people: $89,880
Are homes in the US more affordable right now than previously? Yes, according to thie article from the National Association of Realtors which sees the affordability index at historical highs – this compares median income with the cost of borrowing money and the median cost of house buying. Given that mortgage rates are low and many housing markets have seen a downward trend in prices, the ability to purchase has risen. This doesn’t take into account more restrictive lending practices which mean that only well qualified buyers can actually get loans – ones with better credit scores and more downpayment.
Comparing this to the programs in Mueller, prices are fixed, income limits are slightly higher, and low mortgage rates do make the homes more affordable for those who qualify. The only real question I have is qhat happens when mortgage rates go up? It makes it very hard for those who meet the income qualification to qualify for a large enough loan.
Garreth Wilcock helps people buy homes at Mueller Austin. 512 215 4785.
There’s a home on the market at the Old Mueller Airport redevelopment project. Almost. It’s on the market in that there’s a sign in the yard, though it won’t be entered into the Multiple Listing System as the listing agent is not a member of the Austin Board of Realtors. Here’s the scoop on the resale Standard Pacific Home at 2008 Antone Street, Austin TX 78723.
- Two story Carothers floorplan – the same as the Standard Pacific model home which is still open at the corner of Zach Scott and Tom Miller. The model has a study layout, whereas 2008 Antone has a bedroom setup
- 2710sqft per TCAD – it also has a 600+sqft garage
- Four bedrooms – the master suite and two bedrooms are up, one is down
- Corner lot – 0.112acres per TCAD which is gigantic in Mueller terms.
- Facing The Wedge – a pocket park popular with families for events and get togethers
- Open living-kitchen-dining space with 42″ cabinets and black granite counters with large island.
- Features common to most Mueller homes – double garage with alley access, energy efficient construction
- Priced at $525,000
If you want to find out more, let me know. There are no interior photos available since it’s not listed in the MLS – I went to check it out yesterday and it is well appointed. I’m a photo person myself (how can someone relocating from Michigan choose a house from statistics?), so I took a few from the outside to give a flavor.
Garreth Wilcock is a Realtor who likes to show potential buyers photographs of homes before they go out to see them. 512 215 4785
For the most part, I always assume one of two things about TCAD Valuations: 1. That the values are purposefully absurd to get property tax paying homeowners to figure out and justify what the real values are on behalf of the Travis County Appraisal District, and/or 2. The people tasked with assessing property values have not recently sold a home or helped someone to sell a home in the area that they’re assessing.
Read More about Mueller Valuations at the new HomesAtMueller site.
The housing market at Austin’s old airport redevelopment is quite lively this fall, so here’s a quick roundup of the questions I hear most:
Can I buy a new house at Mueller? Yes! There are Garden Homes being built right now (in fact David Weekley are supposed to commence the first three today) ranging in price from $250-$350k. First move-ins are anticipated for Spring 2011. [update - there is only one of these homes left less than 10 months later - that means 48 have sold!] There are also several custom homes being built or complete in the $700k range, and there are some new custom homes coming on large lots facing Lake Park.
Can I buy a new condo at Mueller? Yes! The Greenway Lofts are selling their mid-rise condos right now for between $175k and $290k (the first move-ins should be in the coming weeks) and the new Standard Pacific Mueller House condos should start selling in the first week of December 2010, so maybe moving in summer 2011.[update - these are well underway with the first building complete and moved into as of mid-September 2011]
Can I buy a resale home at Mueller? Yes! There are two townhomes, two production builder yard homes (detached single family homes) and two custom homes for sale. You can see an updated list of Mueller homes for sale at my website. It allows you to sign up and receive notification when new homes come on the market, though sometimes I find out in advance of them hitting the Multiple Listing System – send me an email to garreth @ SherlockHomesAustin.com if you want to be first to see them! (I showed one home that’s not on the market to two different buyers last week – they’re known as pocket listings)
How often do resale homes come on the market at Mueller? We’re coming up to three years of residency for the first pioneers, and the number of homes on the ground is around 680 according to the tax records. So the number of homes for sale has been modest to date (the average Texan moves every 5 years, though I’m not sure there are many average Texans in the neighborhood). There have been around 16 homes in the last 12 months.
How is the market at Mueller? Overall, it’s pretty strong in the middle. I hate blanket statements like that, but the alternative is to say “it’s complicated” which sounds more like a facebook relationship status than a market report. Get in touch if you want more details.
What’s the average price per square foot sales price for homes at Mueller? I get asked this all the time, and the answer is somewhat meaningless given the huge price range and home style range in the area. If you’re asking the question, you’re missing the point – Mueller isn’t a homogeneous neighborhood. If you really want to know the median sales price / square foot for homes sold in 2010 is $187/sqft. Don’t use this number for anything specific though. The range is $145/sqft to $224/sqft so they may be more useful for establishing lower and upper bounds. Unless you have a home to sell that is outside of the bounds of the 40 neighborhood sales in 2010. You have been warned.
Aren’t there foreclosures in Mueller – is the market collapsing there? Yes and no, in that order. There has been one sold foreclosed home on McCloskey St, which sold at a healthy price, and there is one available foreclosed home on Camacho – actually one of the parade of homes showcase homes. It’s still on the market in the upper $780k range. Admittedly the original list price was close to $1.2m. Does this make it a bargain or mean that the market is crashing? In my opinion it doesn’t. All it means is that there were five of the million dollar homes on the market on the same street at the same time, and the original listing prices clearly weren’t correct – it’s a new price / market that was being formed in 2009. Three of the other homes have sold, and one is under contract, so the market is quite healthy in those numbers.
Can I buy a new Streetman Home at Mueller? The last two are under contract right now, so nope. There has been a resale Streetman Home on the market – let me know if that’s something you’re interested in.
Can I build a custom home at Mueller? Yes – there are lots available upon which Durrett Interests and the Muskin Company will enthusiastically build you a custom home, subject to the guidelines for the neighborhood.
When is the town center coming to Mueller? There are two publically confirmed tenants – the Austin Children’s Museum and Austin Playhouse. Quite when they’ll start is a little unclear. “In the coming year(s)” covers my bases there.
Can I sell my home at Mueller for more than I paid for it? Again, “it’s complicated” but by and large if you bought a home under 400k more than a year ago, if you’ve kept it in good shape, then yes, you can likely list it for more than you paid for it. The big advantage is that there isn’t much competition from new builds right now. If you paid more than $600k then let’s talk about it. This isn’t a reflection on the market at Mueller, there are just more factors right now. If this is your first home to sell, then get in touch and I can talk you through it.
I’ve seen the same sign outside that home in Mueller for xxx days? Is the market slow? There’s a listing that came on the market yesterday – a 3 bedroom townhome opposite Lake Park at 2109 Zach Scott. It’s well priced, and I don’t imagine it will be on the market in a month. It’s not one of my listings, I’m not biased in that way. It’s priced appropriately, and that’s all I have to say about that one. The garden court home on Scales went under contract in less than a month too. I’m sure you get the picture.
Are there any Garden Homes left for sale or are they all gone? You could still buy one. David Weekley are selling them in batches which keeps their construction pipeline smooth. While one or more people have first right of refusal on all 25 market rate garden homes, it may well be that when time comes to actually write a contract and buy one (maybe four months in advance of move-in) then they may back out. If you’re interested in a garden home, get on the list! [update - there is one left]
Are there any homes at Mueller under $200k? The opportunities in the affordable program are income qualified and end up priced in the $160k-$170k range. Income qualification means you have to earn less than 80% of the Austin Median Family Income. The Greenway Lofts have a one bedroom / one bathroom condo at just under $175k.
Can I eat empanadas and pastries and drink organic coffee in the Browning Hangar? Good question, I’m glad you asked. Yes! mmmPanadas is a food trailer which recently joined the Elixer coffee trailer at the Hangar to give residents food and drink in a short walk. Coffee in the park anyone?
Can I buy a new affordable home at Mueller? Yes! There are Mueller House condos available to buy right now.
Any more questions? Comment below, or email them in and I’ll do my best to answer them.
Garreth Wilcock helps people with Mueller Austin homes for sale. Call 512 215 4785 to discuss.
After the recent Mueller Austin Greenfest, and a Sunday stroll around the Zilker Botanical Gardens I left with a swathe of information covering the many City departments and their green offerings.
The array of different programs can be bewildering at first, and often seem overlapping so I broke it down into some easily digestible chunks:
City of Austin Green Garden This is an umbrella for the City of Austin’s landscaping programs, and aside from the opportunity to look at award winning green gardens in Austin, this umbrella seems to just link to other programs.
City of Austin Grow Green is a landscaping program which promotes the least toxic gardening options with advice from the specific “how to avoid fire-blight” to more general ideas of landscaping design, to guides on native and adaptive species to plant, and professional green landscaping certifications.
City of Austin Water Conservation Program is a great resource to learn more about minimizing indoor and outdoor water use. It has information on rebates for replacing older toilets, buying rainbarrels, and on lawn watering restrictions. The original Green Garden program assessed six City programs for water quality enhancements in 2001 to protect the Texas “blue gold”.
Recycling, Grasscycling and Dirtcyclingâ„¢ – The City’s Solid Waste Services has a program to recycle just about anything apart from nuclear waste. They even take the yard trimmings you leave at the curb, add them to sewage sludge and make Dillo Dirtâ„¢ – compost you can then use back on your yard. If the programs haven’t turned you off the whole grass idea, you can cut out the middleman and their huge trucks and leave your clippings on the lawn to decompose – grasscycling.
The Green Garden program also links to Austin Parks and Recreation, and The Austin Energy Green Building Program. While the GBP contains landscaping programs, I think this just adds confusion to the already crowded green space.
If you need someone to help you navigate through the sea of green when buying or selling a home in Austin, give me a call!
Mueller Austin is great for Trick or Treaters (dense housing, wide sidewalks, well-lit streets and lots of candy), but how do the house prices compare to surrounding zip codes?
I was showing some people around the David Weekley inventory on Cal Rodgers last week. The Antone (inventory home with interior upgrades, a larger lot and a 3 car garage) is listed at $376,994 or $169/sqft.
The Mansfield (3 car garage, large lot, interior upgrades) is just under 2000sqft, is listed at $368,687 and is $186/sqft. I’ll use these two David Weekley homes to compare to homes in surrounding zip codes.
How does the price of a home at Mueller compare with the surrounding homes?
|Zip code||median sale price/sqft||median size /sqft|
|Antone 3808 Cal Rodgers||$169.00||2230|
|Mansfield III 3812 Cal Rodgers||$186.00||1976|
There are many options in the same $300,000 – $400,000 range in these zip codes, and each area has a range of neighborhoods and amenities, so this analysis is just to give a general idea. The David Weekley homes we looked at are appealing on a price per square foot basis if the urban lifestyle of Mueller suits your needs.
Garreth Wilcock is a Realtor ® residing in Mueller Austin. See all homes for sale at Mueller Austin, TX.