47 posts categorized "Condos and Multifamily"

Monday, September 10, 2007

Today Final Deadline for Barton Place Condo Reservations

I just received an alert that today is the final day to reserve one of the unique units at Barton Place Condos for their first phase. Their "presentation" center is having grand opening Saturday, September 22, 2007.

Bartonplace_2Food will be served at the event, which takes place from 3-5pm at Uncle Billy's Brew & Q in South Central Austin at 1608 Barton Springs Road. We'd previous discussed some of the history around Barton Place Condos and this popular area of town. Should you decide to visit them at some point,also visit the new Town Lake Park.


On a side note, Uncle Billy's is relatively new and seems to be doing well. I'm no food critic, but thought the bar-b-que was tasty. I didn't enjoy the sauce, which had too much vinegar for my taste...

Link: Barton Place Austin :: Live Austin. Read more about Barton Place Condos as well as Town Lake Park.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Dallas Real Estate Company Buys Acreage on Gulf Coast

Bolivar The Texas Gulf Coast has been growing despite setbacks the past few years. Bolivar Island is seeing growth that is spilling over from those interested in Galveston Island.

Galveston has a been a hot destination for baby boomers and real estate investors for the past few years since it's one of the most affordable beach getaways in the nation.'

According to the investor who purchased the acreage know as Cade Ranch, "I think Bolivar will continue to be attractive to Beaumont, Port Arthur and towns east of Houston".

Picture provided by KFDM news. Read more: Dallas Real Estate Company Buys Near 3,000 Acres Near High Island

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What's In the Works for Downtown Austin?

Downtown Austin development is booming and we've been diligently following many of the projects. As mentioned last week, the team is updating the blog and providing more visual content.

Enjoy our Slideshare presentation on current and upcoming development projects in Downtown Austin for 2007. Download the associated pdfs.

We are going to add audio to the video soon.

Read more about what's happening in Downtown Austin at City of Austin - Downtown Redevelopment.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Southeast Travis County Boom on Way

Carma Central East Austin was one of the undervalued areas in Austin 5 years ago that underwent a massive explosion in price appreciation once the market caught on. Now, Southeast Travis county is finally getting some of that attention.

The Austin Statesman reported at 20-year mixed-use development in Southeast Travis County near McKinney Falls Parkway that may eventually house 30,000 residents. According to the article, "Carma Texas Inc. is proposing a community with 7,500 single-family homes; 3,500 townhouses, lofts and apartments; and 1.2 million square feet of office and retail space."

Although there was controversy around the SH130 Toll Road, you can't deny the fact that any communities along this highway will see significant growth.

Read more about it now! Big mixed-use project set for southeastern Travis.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Downtown Austin's "Bling": The 5 Fifty Five Condos

5fiftyfive Last week, we reported on the Four Seasons Residences, highly popular lofts in Downtown Austin that nearly sold out within the first weeks of availability. The 5 Fifty Five luxury condos are also major players in the downtown residential market.

I received an alert that are in the final phases of taking reservations. Of course, the 5 Fifty Five will sport "breathtaking" views, concierge and so forth. I'll let you read more about them on their website.

I am attracted to the 5 Fifty Five is because they sit atop Fin and Porter, one of my favorite restaurants in Austin. Fin and Porter is part of the Hilton Restaurant Group and provides a great dining experience when you're in Austin or even if you live here. 

The 5 Fifty Five is a promising development due to it's proximity to Town Lake, The Capitol and 6th Street.

Read more about: The 5 Fifty Five high rise condominiums in downtown Austin, Texas.

Search All Greater Austin Condos.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Four Seasons Luxury Residences Nearly Sold in Six Weeks!

Fourseasons I received an email alert today from the marketing team for the Four Seasons Private Residences. 80% of the project has already been reserved after only six week of sales. 

The quick sale time is a great indication that luxury downtown condos are still desirable to buyers.


  • Floors 6-13 are still available and have just been released.
  • Size ranges from 806 to 1815  square feet with prices starting in the $400s.
  • Amenities include a roof-top pool and terrace, concierge service and a great location on Town Lake.

The units are expected to sell out within the next month or so. Read more about the amenities: Four Seasons Private Residences - Austin

Contact your real estate agent or our team for floorplans or a walkthrough.

Search all condos and homes in Greater Austin!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Simmons Vedder Begans Construction on 'Mosaic" Apartments at Mueller Austin

Mosaic_2 I received a press release yesterday regarding the Mosaic Apartments, which will begin construction at the Mueller Austin redevelopment in East Central Austin. Simmons Vedder will handle the high-end multifamily project, which is slated for completion late Fall 2008. (Pictured is the rendering I received).

The Mosaic seems like a nice apartment project, but it's not very exciting news. I searched Google News for the story and only found a few reports. Although interest is high in the Mueller Austin project, most people can't buy there because of the long waiting list.  There are already a few hundred home buyers in line for the second phase of the project, which will begin soon.

I guess this is one of the few instances where you may decide to rent instead of buy, but at least it's not by your preferred choice. 

Read more about Mueller Austin as well as my role in the project.

Link: Apartments debut at Mueller - Austin Business Journal

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Multifamily Project in Killeen Delayed...Again

IConstruct_photo'd previously reported on some project delays in Killeen for a few of the multifamily builders. Well folks, there are even more delays. We only had one client who put an offer on two of the fourplexes, which were excellent deals, but it looks like the finish out date has moved from April/May time-frame to Fall.

Worst, the builder's representative has not been communicating to agents. Here is the email we received when inquiring about our close date of July 15th...





First, who is Jacques? Jacque Walters is our closing coordinator, so perhaps they addressed her. Second, the all CAPS explanation doesn't apologize or fully explain why the dates have changed so much since February, which is when we first placed our offer. Our team's spec builds in Austin (only an hour or so away from Killeen) were slightly delayed because of rain, but not by 6 months.

Just a heads up. Let the buyer beware when purchasing a new duplex or fourplex in Killeen!

Read our previous story on Killeen project delays.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Austin Apartment Still Strong Despite "Overbuilding"

Development in Austin has been noticeably slowing down home sales in some areas. Last year, listings sold within 30 days. This year, home are often on the market for 60-90 days in some of the hottest areas in town. Still, 60 days on the market is great compared to home sales in California and other states.

Forrentsign2 According to the Austin Business Journal, the Austin apartment market is still strong despite condo conversions and new projects in 2007-2008. Occupancy is almost at 94%, which is the highest it's been in years. Landlords have been raising rents despite over 5,500 units being built soon.

Although technically the Austin market is still hot, it's not on fire in all areas. Sellers who overprice and renters who don't lease a good deal quickly are feeling the pain.

Read about it: Austin real estate still going strong - Austin Business Journal:.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Zilker Neighborhood Association Blesses Barton Place Condos

Bartonplace I'd previously mentioned that Austin is a tough cookie when it comes to developing here. Many believe that our Zoning and Planning Department has "strict" guidelines. In addition, Austin residents have no problems speaking out to approve or disapprove of neighborhood changes. They want new developments to match their needs, desires and current community feel.

Well at another developer got it right! The project team for the upcoming Barton Place Condos in South Central won over neighbors and the City of Austin by getting their input from the very start. The Zilker Neighborhood Association isn't an easy community to win over, but final approvals are in place. The Barton Place Condominiums will be:

  • Environmentally friendly. Developers are working with the Austin Greenbuilding Program.
  • Limit heights so neighbors can keep their views.
  • Not harm Town Lake.
  • Retain as many trees as possible.

The downside is that the Pecan Grove RV Park residents will be overlooked. The pricing on the condos are much too high for the current occupants to afford. I still haven't been made aware of the developers are offering affordable housing options, which is a disappointment.

Read more: Neighborhood satisfied with development

Search all condos and lofts online at AustinMLSonline.com.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Condo Conversions: Let's not lose money on these

I had a great conversation yesterday about condo conversions in Austin. Our market is so hot that more developers and buyers are deciding to purchase multifamily units of 2-4 units to convert them to condos. While this is generally a good strategy in the right market, buyers need to be careful.

I read some articles today about the markets in California and Arizona, where condo conversions were once very high. Once the market dropped, buyers of converted units became unhappy with the fact that many of their neighbors were now renters.

Condo conversions can be a win/win for a buyer and seller, but they can also be a headache. Here are some tips for making condo conversion a winning deal:

  1. Choose the right area. This is key! Work with a market expert who can help you determine if all signs point to a good area thats ripe for new condos.
  2. Know the city development guidelines. Austin is a tough area to build in, but have a developer assistance department that will help you hash our your idea before you get started. Houston is different and has no zoning, so you can almost do whatever you want, where you want.
  3. Know the market. Have you chosen the right area for the conversion? Are there any new projects coming on the market that you should know about? How fast will your unit sell?
  4. Buy right. You need to buy well enough and have a back up plan in case you cannot convert or there's a problem that will cause you to lose money should you continue with your plan. Some areas will hold their appreciation even if the market slows.

THE #1 TIP FOR BUYING A CONVERTED CONDO: Be happy with your purchase even if your neighbors change! Some things will change, but your location, the price you paid and the local amenities will not.

The golden rule for buying anything is to be satisfied when you buy instead of hoping for payoff when you sell.

Link: Early Buyers Feel Condo Conversion Sting.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Concordia Unversity to Get $500M Mixed-Use Makeover

It's strange to not hear much about the Concordia University redevelopment. The central Austin university is moving to its new 250-acre campus in northwest Austin. In the meantime, the dogfight for the old campus is over. East Avenue Investment Group was victorious in their bid to create a mixed-use development out of the area.

In 2008, about $2.75M of retail, office, condos and class-A living will emerge. Developers are currently working on infrastracture

Read more: Developer Readies $500M Mixed-Use Project.

Concordia buyers get financing to redevelop.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Builder Delays in Killeen Cause Worries

Killeen, Texas experienced a surge in interest from investors due to it's relative stability and large military population. Once investors, agents and mortgage brokers learned the new construction developments, they rushed to buy in the area.

The new multifamily communities initially looked promising because:

  • They were geared towards higher-ranking pay grades.
  • They were gated and affordable at under $250k including 3% buyer closing costs.
  • They were cashflow properties even with zero down.

Some of the units were supposed to be completed by April or May. Once the initial contracts expired, the builder asked for close dates of Mid-July, saying end of June would most likely be the time frame. Now, they are pushing dates out to the end of July.

The builder blames weather issues like freezing rain and flooding have affected their developments. The problem is that some buyer contracts have not been extended since they expired in March or this month.

Our team may take a trip out to Killeen at the various projects to see how far off the ground these projects are. We encourage any agent or investor who purchased there to do the same.

Did you read about the Killeen TX Real Estate Goldrush?

Best places to buy in Texas.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Texas Coast, Galveston Set For Economic Boom

Texas coastal areas Galveston, South Padre Island and Corpus Christi took a small beating when Hurricanes Rita and Katrina came through a few short years ago. The damage wasn't as severe as other states, so wasn't broadcast as extensively on the national news stations.

The cities had to rebuild, but learned from the mistakes of the nearby coastal states, so are building highly-reinforced condo projects and homes. With the large influx of baby boomers, retirees and second home buyers, the Texas coast has been set for an economic boom. I've been hearing that home prices in Corpus Christi have been on a steady incline, which is in line with the rest of our state.

Small cities like Galveston (outside of Houston) are seeing more new beachfront condo developments specifically for retirees. I am planning a trip to Galveston this summer or fall to see how well the area is doing and discover possible investments. If you're interested in the findings, keep checking back because I'll report what I see in the TexasRealtyBlog.

Read an excerpt: Galveston Emerging As Texas Riviera | Planetizen.

Strengthening Galveston's homes.

Did you know about the Laguna Harbor condos that were breaking ground north of Galveston Island?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Villa Muse, $1.5B Neighborhood Shakes Up Southeast Austin

Every now and then, a developer takes a city by storm. They may announce a project so huge, so different and forward-thinking that it shakes up the status quo. Austin has had so many development announcements in the past year alone that we've sort of "been there, done that" when it comes to new central or downtown condos and other upcoming projects.

Villa Muse, a $1.5 Billion Dollar "creative class" neighborhood in far southeast Austin has  garnered the attention of just about every newspaper publication and blog since their announcement Tuesday. Aside from Mueller Austin, there hasn't been as much excitement about a master-planned community. Villa Muse is even getting more attention than the Domain in Northwest Austin.

Villa Muse isn't just cool because of the huge price tag. It's anticipated because Austin is making a serious play for creative talent and big studios productions. Where else in Texas are you going to find a 50,000 square-foot sound stage and recording studio as well as an amphitheater in the middle of a neighborhood?

Now I see why people in the know have been warning me to keep my duplexes in Area 9, zip 78741 in Austin.

Texas House of Representatives Sponsor House Bill 1634 to give incentives to Villa Muse. Video is at News 8 Austin.

Read how the 'Creative talent' will anchor $1.5 billion neighborhood.

Blog: What is Villa Muse?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Texas Buyer's Market Apocalypse is Upon Us

I've been saying it since last year. Texas is hot, hot, hot despite a downward trend in other states. This is great news for sellers, but buyers are getting tired of the competition. Multiple offers, increased prices, and higher property taxes are all signs of an appreciating and competitive market.

Property owners in major Texas cities like Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio are seeing the signs that the buyer market apocalypse is upon us. You know you're in a HOT seller's market when...

  • Inventory shrinks. Homes start selling faster and the average days on market decreases.
  • Multiple offer mayhem ensues. You get the feeling that you're competing to buy a house due to other offers. Brawling or begging may take place.
  • Real estate ads and advertising decrease since homes sell so quickly.
  • FBSO signs are more plentiful as unrepresented sellers strike out on their own.
  • Then...the final sign that you're in a seller's market is when condominium conversions increase at a feverish pace. 

Continue reading "Texas Buyer's Market Apocalypse is Upon Us" »

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Austin Closer to Transforming Seaholm Powerplant to Mixed-Use Development

The Austin Statesman reported earlier an update on the Seaholm project. Although all of the attention has been focused on the Robert Mueller Redevelopment in East Austin, the Seaholm Power Plant Redevelopment should not be overshadowed.

The city entered into a joint venture with Seaholm Power, LLC. Per the article, developers are expected to roll out today their vision for a mixed-use project that would transform the former Seaholm Power Plant into shops, offices, a hotel and condominiums by 2009.

The Austin City Council will get its first look at a new rendering of the project, which features a modern design while retaining the distinctive Art Deco building and its five signature smokestacks.
The decommissioned 1940s plant sits on about 8 acres along West Cesar Chavez Street overlooking Town Lake. An adjacent 22-story residential/hotel tower and two-story office building also would have a modern design but with an Art Deco flavor. 

On other words, the project is really, really cool. It mirrors where Austin real estate has been going for some time now. Read more on the Statesman site: Austin nearer to transforming Seaholm.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Austin Business Journal Reports New Town Lake Condos

According to the Austin Business Journal - 5:09 PM CST Thursday, February 15, 2007...

The Austin City Council on Thursday gave final approval to a project that will bring two new condominium towers to the south shore of Town Lake. Grand Prairie-based Fairfield Residential LLC plans to build 200-foot tall towers on a 10-acre site adjacent to the Hyatt Regency Austin. The company asked the city to relax the zoning to allow for more impervious cover at the site.

The council voted unanimously to give the project preliminary approval in early January and did so again Thursday. The number of units Fairfield has planned for the project is uncertain at this point. Fairfield purchased the Hyatt hotel and the adjacent property in 2005. In December, the company put the 448-room hotel up for sale, retaining the land for the condo project.

You may be wondering if there are too many condos coming in Central/SouthCentral Austin. Only time will tell, but with our expected growth and the huge number of boomers and relocation buyers, demand is expected to increase.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

New and Improved Condos Coming Fall 2007 Near the University of Texas Austin

I went to a meeting today regarding upcoming condos and lofts near the University of Texas in West Campus. For out-of-town readers, this area is west...of the University of Texas campus, within walking distance to the school. The popular area had previously not seen many new residential construction due to zoning limitations.  Then came along With the UNO, the University Neighborhood Overlay. Developers who meet these option guidelines can apply to build taller, more dense properties. Examples include the TexanTower.

The panelists predicted that West Campus residential real estate will grow towards downtown Austin. Although Downtown Austin prices are low cost ($300-500 per square foot) compared to other cities of our size, it's still not as cost effective for professionals or students in Central Austin. Campus condos that are within walking distance to the University of Texas range in prices around the $225-275 per sqft.

Residential real estate projects have skyrocketed now that the City of Austin realizes that our housing stock would not keep up with growth if we didn't start "building up".  If you live in Austin, you've noticed the large number of cranes in Central Austin. One indicator of the number of high rise projects that are coming up for central Austin: there was recently a shortage of cranes due to the current demand. When we start running out of cranes, you can start counting the dollars developers are going to make.

So back to West Campus. This area is within walking distance of the University of Texas and is a hot location due to the number of quality renters as well as steady appreciation. Our team developed a list of projects that are open for reservations in West Campus, so contact us for a quick email or call. We're still working on the data. So far, the demographics of buyers are parents, graduate students, university professionals, and medical staff. Most projects are being sold now but will be completed Fall 2007.

Help yourself to the exciting neighborhood plans online at the City of Austin website and check back soon for further updates.

Monday, February 05, 2007

New Luxury Condos Coming to Austin and Round Rock, TX

For those of you who missed these stories in the Texas A&M Recon...

ROUND ROCK (Austin Business Journal) – A nearly completed $30 million luxury townhome project could mean the beginning of new housing options for the city, which has primarily consisted of single-family homes. The 160-unit Knotting Hill Town Homes development is being built on 16 acres fronting A.W. Grimes Boulevard between Gattis School Road and Louis Henna Boulevard.

The one-, two- and three-bedroom units range from 913 to 1,523 square feet. They are priced between $128,000 and $202,000. Waco-based Brown Holdings Inc. partnered with Austin-based Stadler Custom Homes on the development, with Vance Powell serving as project manager.

From the Austin American-Statesman
– A planned $200 million luxury condominium tower will raise the bar for height in the downtown area. The 55-story, 195-unit Austonian will tower 22 stories above the Frost Bank Tower, currently downtown’s tallest building.

The design, by Houston-based Ziegler Cooper Architects, has not been finalized, but construction on the 500,000-square-foot tower at 200 Congress Ave. is slated to begin late this year. Developer Second Congress Ltd. expects the tower to be completed in 2009.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Red River Lofts Coming to Downtown Austin

Central Austin will see another multifamily condo project soon. I haven't been able to find much information on the Red River Lofts, but my sources show that  Greystar Management applied for the permit in Q3 of 2006. The address cited was at 901 Red River Street. The current project has over 48,000 square feet allocated.  There will be a parking garage and clubhouse.


  • 1305 E. 6th Street. The 1.5M project is almost 19k square feet. Notes showed that the use was changed from warehouse to multifamily.
  • 217 South Lamar. Permits were continuing for the second floors of this condo project by CLB Partners.
  • 2200 Pearl Street. Residential apartments being completed by CWC Capital Partners, LLC.
  • 900 South Lamar Blvd. Condo conversion project by Ed Davidson & Harold Mil. About 19k square feet.
  • 300 Crockett Street. Condo conversion project by Westbank Partners.
  • 1914 Garden Street. Two new single family homes with covered porches and wooden decks. Not sure if these have been sold or will be sold once they are completed, but an LLC is building them.

We'll have updates as we learn more about the projects and sales price ranges.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Urban Garden Living at Sterling Ridge

From Texas A&M Recon:

THE WOODLANDS (realtynewsreport.com) – Alexan Sterling Ridge, a 310-unit apartment community, will be built on 11 recently purchased acres in the Terramont area of The Woodlands’ Village of Sterling Ridge.

Apartments in the three-story complex will have an "urban garden" design and range from one to three bedrooms and 700 to 1,400 square feet.

Buyer BC Sterling Ridge LLC, an affiliate of Trammell Crow Residential, will begin construction in late spring, with the first units available in early 2008.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

More luxury condos on way to Austin

Newsflash for those of you interested in condos in Austin. We have more on the way!

From the Austin American-Statesman – Wellesley Inn & Suites will be demolished next month to make way for Constellation Property Group’s Star Riverside development.

The $70 million, 254-unit luxury condo project at East Riverside Dr. and I-35 will include four buildings, the tallest of which will be 110 feet or 11 stories.

Construction on the first phase — two 60-foot, 68-unit buildings — will begin in mid 2007. Most of those units will have three bedrooms and average 1,500 square feet, with prices ranging between $700,000 and $1 million. Work on the second phase, the 90-foot building, will begin in 2008, with the final phase starting a year later.

Constellation, an Australian development company, will grant an easement to the city to extend the hike-and-bike trail and donate $250,000 toward a boardwalk or pontoon bridge on the river beneath I-35. The boardwalk would connect the trail from the east with parkland west of the interstate.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Live/Work Lofts and Condo Projects Cater to Austin's "Creative Class"

Austin has had a surge of new developments that seek to accommodate live/work lifestyles. These include Waterstreet Lofts, at Comal and East Cesar Chavez streets; 1305 Lofts, on East Sixth Street; Spaces 2525 and The Magnolia, both on South Lamar Boulevard; Sixth and Brushy at Sixth and Brushy streets; Satsuma53, at East 53rd Street and North Loop Boulevard; and Willow Branch Lofts on Poquito Street.         

The redeveloped Robert Mueller Municipal Airport site will include substantial live/work housing, such as flats above storefronts, and the Domain shopping center being built near the Arboretum will include apartments.

Although the live/work concept dates back centuries, the modern interpretation originated in San Francisco's South of Market area in the late 1990s, when technology began to create a mobile work force, Warshaw says. The "true" live/work space is a loft with a studio/office on the ground floor and a living space on top connected by an open staircase.But the high cost of developing and affording such large lofts has tempered demand. "I think people would love (live/work spaces) but it's a question of cost," Warshaw says. In Austin, "selling a half-million dollar live/work space hasn't really been plausible yet."

Recent projects target buyers by creating boutique urban infill developments with lofts anchored by commercial space at street level.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Builders for East Austin Redevelopment to be Announced

I attended the Robert Mueller Municipal Airport (RMMA) Plan Implementation Advisory Commission meeting last night at the Waller Creek Center. There were some good news and announcements that came out of the meeting.

Here is the recap:

Since Capmetro could not attend to give their update, so the first report came from Steven Harris, Project Manager for the University of Texas. As you probably know, they're putting a medical research facility at the old Robert Mueller Airport Redevelopment. They said they're working on final design for building. There will apparently be a second phase, which is an expansion to first building, but they currently do not have a timeline.

Matt Whelan, VP for the project on Catellus' side, reported on the overall development project.

  • Six builders were selected and will be announced January.
  • Residential construction is on schedule and will probably start this summer for move-in dates around this time in 2007. Sections 4 & 5 will be completed first, which includes condo units.
  • A press release will go out to inform the public that they are working on stabilizing the roof for film studios. They didn't want us thinking it's being torn down. They need to fix the Bow Trussed Hanger.
  • The Northwest park will open in February.
  • Commercial lease space is still available. There will be 30 small business opportunities.

I asked for more clarification on the small business opportunities, so the advisory commission would like to make sure this is clear in the implementation of the plan. Matt Whelan offered his direct assistance in making sure the needs of the small, women, and minority communities are met. Texas House Representative Dawnna Dukes is also a good contact.

One final note, the advisory commission received 10 applications for their two vacancies. Board members are nominated by consensus from city council.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Texas Apartment Market Update Fall 2006

Whether you are a renter or landlord, you may be interested in this update form the Texas A&M Recon on rental rates in Texas...

The apartment markets in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio each saw decreases in occupancy and increases in average rent for the year ending October 2006, according to Carrollton-based ALN Apartment Data, a market research firm:

  • Austin reported no change in occupancy, holding stagnant at 93.7 percent in October 2005 to October 2006.  Austin had the largest increase in rental rates for the year, going from $731 to $773 (5.7 percent increase).
  • Houston had the biggest change, going from 92.9 percent to 90.4 percent (2.7 percent drop).
  • Dallas occupancy for October 2005 was 91 percent, compared to October 2006 of 90.2 percent, a 0.9 percent drop. The city had the smallest increase in rental rates, going from $731 to $750 (2.6 percent).
  • Fort Worth, as of October 2005, had 90.1 percent occupancy, compared to October 2006 of 89.2 percent (down 1 percent). There was a 3 percent increase from $643 to $662.
  • Rents in San Antonio went from $653 in October 2005 to $676 in October 2006.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Condos expected to Hook UT Alumni

New condos near University of Texas are aimed to grab the attention of almuni and fans. The developer has done similar projects in other college towns.

The Texas Gameday Center, at Dean Keeton and Red River streets, will include 51 units in a converted apartment building, with another 136 units in a new building nearby. The developer, Atlanta-based Gameday Centers Southeastern LLC, is in negotiations for the site of the new building.

...Work is expected to start next spring on the new building, which could be ready in fall 2008.
The new building will have studios and one-, two- and three-bedroom suites ranging from 350 square feet to 2,000 square feet. Amenities will include on-site management, private parking and a clubroom for tailgating before games. Prices will range from $160,000 to $1 million.

Since the City of Austin is already flooded with condo developments, perhaps the unique angle of this one will help it survive the glut.

Link: Condos expected to hook UT alumni.

Monday, November 13, 2006

City of Austin Rethinks Building Height Restrictions

I had a friend in town this weekend who is from Switzerland. She moved from Austin back to her hometown of Bern, Switzerland about four years ago. She was amazed at how much we've changed and seemed very happy at the "more metropolitan" look of the new mixed-use commercial developments.

I was at a meeting a month ago where Mayor Will Wynn discussed the new direction for Austin. In the past, the city wanted to limit height restrictions in central areas to inhibit development. Decades later, city leaders understand and accept that Austin will grow despite any barriers they try to put in the way of development. Austin would now like to open it's arms to developers of mixed-use commercial properties, especially in central neighborhoods.

Here is the email I received, which announced the city meeting that will take place on December 13th for Mueller Redevelopment areas:

Please participate in an informational meeting on Wednesday, December 13, 6-9 p.m., at the Region XIII Education Center, 5701 Springdale, on the Vertical Mixed Use Opt-in Opt-out process. The VMU option is part of the new City Council-approved Commercial Design Standards Ordinance. This ordinance was crafted by a citizen task force, City staff, and City consultants. A Vertical Mixed Use (VMU) overlay would allow property owners to develop non-residentially zoned property in a new way.  A use on the first floor of a building could be commercial and above, you could see a residential use, such as condominiums.

Properties along certain streets in your neighborhood, called Core Transit Corridors, have been designated as potential areas where the VMU overlay may be appropriate.  Other properties within your neighborhood may be appropriate for Vertical Mixed Use buildings as well.  The City needs your help to determine which properties within your neighborhood are appropriate for this sort of development.  All organized neighborhood groups have been asked to participate in the VMU Opt-in/ Opt-out process.

Unfortunately, I will be out of town in a commercial real estate analysis class. If you want to read the guidelines for yourself, download the updated commercial design guidelines (pdf).

Monday, October 09, 2006

East Riverside Project Biggest Redevelopment Project in Austin

As you may be aware, there's a huge redevelopment effort in South Central Austin near Riverside Drive and Barton Springs Road. This is a very popular area and the development should sell quickly. This recent announcement has been covered on the news extensively. I found a good article about it on the Austin American Statesman.

A local real estate investment firm plans an 840-unit apartment and condominium complex on East Riverside Drive, the biggest project by far in the residential boom in and near downtown.

The project will replace apartment buildings at 222 and 300 East Riverside with three 18-story buildings, said Richard Suttle Jr., an attorney for the developer. Two condo buildings each would have about 243 units. An apartment building would have about 352. All buildings would include parking garages. CWS would give the city about an acre of lakefront land worth millions of dollars as part of the project, Suttle said, as well as room for a park police substation.

Again, this is just in the plans. The developer will need to garner support from the residents and final approval from the city. I'll keep you posted as I learn more.

Link: East Riverside project would add apartments, condos, extend hike and bike trail.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Austin & Texas Real Estate Market Forecast: Buy LAND!

Last night, I attended a real estate forecast at a CREW Austin event. CREW is a highly-respected organization for commercial women in real estate. It's a great group to be involved in because of the high level of trust and ample networking opportunities. I'd say 2/3rds of the attendees were women, but there were a lot of men present.

The forecast was given by Ted Jones of Stewart Title. He's a very entertaining guy and we had a lot of fun. We discussed the Austin and Texas real estate markets. According to Ted, we are currently overbuilding in Austin, as was happening in California and Florida years ago.

  1. Problem #1. Many investors and home buyers are putting less than 10% down on their properties. Around 43% of homes sold in our area were zero down mortgages. Since appreciation is not slated to continue at it's current rate, these homeowners are going to be in trouble when more inventory is available.
  2. Problem #2.  Investors and out-of-town buyers hit our market hard in the past 2-3 years. Since many of the homes sold are to people who do not plan to keep them, there will be a flood of inventory since most plan to sell within the next 2-5 years.
  3. Problem#3. Ted compared jobs to home builds. We are at .70 jobs for every home that is built when we should be at at 1:1 ratio. Part of this goes back to issue of out-of-town investors and speculators, who are buying much of our inventory at full price even when the homes are overpriced.

Now the good news...

  1. Good news#1. Job growth is on the rise in Austin and Texas overall. Many companies are relocating here and we also have a city push to grow current organizations. Commercial real estate is doing very well because of this. The office and retail sectors have never been better.
  2. Good news#2. Homes appreciated, on average, about 9-10% last year. Previously, we were holding at a steady 4%. Although they are not expected to appreciate this much in 2007, we will at least maintain our home values for the next few years.


  • We definitely do not have a "bubble" because we are not so far ahead of ourselves that we're in a feverish market. Texas property tax rates are a little prohibitive and will usually help balance our markets.
  • By all accounts, this means 2007-2008 is probably ok, but you may want to sell your property within those years before the market starts to cycle back down.  This is when demand should still be high, but inventory will not be. ALERT: Most of the new condo communities are slated for completion around the end of 2007-2008. If you have a condo, you may want to sell soon. Unless you have a rental, second-home, or long-term hold, the time to sell is before these other ones are complete.
  • BUY LAND. Buy as much of it as you can because the true value any property is in land. Within the past few years, the cost of land in the City of Austin has grown at a much higher rate than before. I tried finding affordable acreage and could barely find any in Travis County, let alone the city. Smart investors will use  their 1031 exchange or Self-Directed IRA to buy land for later use or a long-term hold.

If you have comments, questions, or need advice, feel free to contact our team.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Spring condo project gets $70 million construction loan; Downtown Austin gets mini-grocery store

As you can read from the past several months of posts, the City of Austin is really making a move to transition downtown to a more residential area.

According to the Austin Statesman, "Royal Blue Grocery, downtown's first neighborhood grocery story, opened Tuesday at 247 W. Third St., near the Second Street retail and entertainment district. The 1,000-square-foot store will cater to downtown's growing resident population, stocking staples such as milk and eggs, fresh produce and prepared foods, wine and beer...The store will be open daily from 7:30 a.m. to midnight."

Whole Foods has been a popular attraction to Central Austin. Iti's located near the intersection of Lamar and 6th Street, which is west of Downtown. Since most upcoming mixed-use residences are being built near 2nd Street, it only makes sense to have more retail operations in that area.
Also in the works is the Spring Condos, which will be in this area as well."The International Bank of Commerce is providing a $70 million construction loan for the Spring condominiums, to be built at Third and Bowie streets downtown. Developers said they plan to start work on the 41-story, 260-unit tower in early 2007, with completion expected in the fourth quarter of 2008".

Now is definitely the time to buy central. Some locals think $250-400k for a small condo is expensive, but they need to check with other residents of large cities. Downtown living is often convenient, shiek, and profitable in the longrun. There's only so much Central Austin living to go around and these new condos will present good opportunities for investors.

Link: Spring condo project gets $70 million construction loan; Downtown Austin gets mini-grocery store..

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Mixed-use properties provide convenience to residents

I liked this article from the Texas A&M Resource Center because it describes some of the new apartments and residences coming to Austin. I've been reporting that mixed-use projects are very popular. City officials are encouraging more mixed-use and residential developments in Central and Downtown Austin as we continue to grow.

The Domain Residences is one of many examples in the Austin area of housing being built above retail shops. Currently under construction and located off Braker Lane and MoPac Expressway in the Arboretum area, the project will feature 390 luxury apartment units within and above 750,000 square feet of retail. Residents who live above retail space are a short walk from eating and entertainment. This type of arrangement seems to be a particular fit with two types of renters and buyers: young professionals and empty-nesters.

These mixed-use conveniences come with a price tag. It's more expensive to build "vertical structures," as they're called in the commercial real estate industry. If you want housing on top of retail, that means you have to build the retail shell of concrete in order to support the weight of the housing above. Land prices for prime sites that are suitable for mixed-use projects also tend to go for a premium price. In turn, that means it won't make sense for every project site to contain a mixture of commercial and residential properties.

In Austin, the intersection of Sixth Street and Lamar Boulevard is turning into a blend of work-live-play uses. A number of apartment or condo projects already exist, and more are on the way. It's anticipated that the redevelopment of the Seaholm Power Plant site will act as another hub of activity. The Domain in Northwest Austin, the Mueller redevelopment's planned town center in Central Austin and The Triangle project north of the UT campus prove rooftops and retail shops can coexist outside the main core.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Two more Congress towers proposed

Austin Statesman-Austin's downtown living trend began with a handful of smaller projects, then gathered steam with the Nokonah (Ninth and Lamar) and Austin City Lofts (West Fifth). The city estimates 1,385 apartment and condominium units - both in downtown proper and along Town Lake - are under construction or recently completed, and another 2,500 units are potentially in the pipeline. The two most ambitious projects are planned for Congress Avenue in downtown Austin.

The Congress Avenue Condominiums would rise more than 40 stories at the northwest corner of Congress Avenue and Second Street. The project would be primarily residential, with first-floor retail below 250 condominiums.

The proposed Fifth and Congress, at the northeast corner of its namesake streets, would sit adjacent to the Bank of America building and become the city's tallest high-rise at 47 stories. It's a combination of 1 million square feet of retail, office and residential space. Charles Heimsath of Capitol Market Research has suggested that the absorption of downtown living units is a healthy, yet modest, 300 per year.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

South Congress Lofts on the Way

The Austin Business Journal previously reported that ground has  broken on some new lofts in South Central Austin. The SoCo Lofts have been aggressive in pre-selling their project.

A parcel of land at S. Congress Ave. and Alpine Street is being cleared to make way for an urban condo project with 69 residential units and 17 commercial units. The SoCo Lofts and Shops at SoCo is a collaborative effort by Symcox Development, Greystar Development Group and Tierra Capital. Completion is scheduled for summer 2007.

The building’s design is inspired by turn-of-the-century industrial warehouse architecture. Completion is scheduled for summer 2007. The project will have an elevated and broad loading-dock street front with a mix of shops and restaurants and a shaded courtyard.

"SoCo" (South Congress) is considered one of the the trendiest shopping districts in Austin. Partially due to the "coolness" factor and it's proximity to downtown, SoCo has seen a significant increase in the commercial and multi-use developments lately. Downtown spraul is projected to continue for the next few decades. With the projected Million new residents, these types of developments are welcome.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Downtown high-rises will soar even higher

Ok, one more Downtown Austin update and I'll move to other topics. Many of the highrises are being updated to include living spaces. Apartments, condos, etc. are going to be on the rise. Investors should take notice because most are expected to have double-digit appreciation almost immediately.

(Austin Statesman) - A downtown residential project is ready to start construction - with eight more floors than the original plans envisioned.

  • MetLife and partner Hanover Co. are building the 36-story apartment tower at 101 Colorado St., next door to MetLife's 22-story office tower at 100 Congress Ave. A revised design is 36 stories, with 258 units, including three live-work units facing Cesar Chavez Street. The first residents could move in by fall 2008.

Mayor Will Wynn has said his vision for a lively downtown includes 25,000 residents by 2015 - a fivefold increase - and there is no shortage of developers ready to meet the demand.

  • Projects under construction or planned for downtown would add more than 3,000 living units, with more slated to be built south of downtown.
  • Work has started on six projects, and several more are expected to break ground in early 2007.
  • Work should start Feb. 1 on Spring, a 36-story 220-unit condominium tower at Third and Bowie streets, said Robert Barnstone, one of the project's developers.
  • Just south of downtown, Crescent Resources LLC plans to start work in early 2007 on Aquaterra, a 19-story, 173-unit condominium tower at 210 Barton Springs Road. The project will cost almost $50 million and should be finished in late 2008.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Condo Conversion Project Launches in Central Austin

I'd thought condo conversions had subsided because of the time it takes to make the developments, but it appears we have one in the works in Central Austin. AUSTIN (Austin Business Journal):

Local developer Marshall Durrett, president of Grandview Street Partners Ltd., plans to turn an aging multifamily development in Central Austin into a 16-unit, $10 million condominium building at the intersection of 32nd and Grandview Streets between Seton Medical Center, downtown, the University of Texas and the Tarrytown neighborhood.

Grandview Street Condominiums will be a single building with ten, two-story condos on the ground level topped by six penthouse units. The condos will be finished-out to luxury specifications with prices ranging from the mid-$500,000s to mid-$800,000s for floor plans between 2,000 square feet and 3,000 square feet. The 1930s duplexes and fourplexes currently on the nearly one-acre site will be demolished. Construction is slated to begin in January.

Condo and office conversions can be a good way to get the maximum profit out of an aging property. Residential living spaces in the price ranges of $250-500k would sell very quickly in Central Austin. Investors looking into these opportunities should make sure they do enough research to understand the time they need to dedicate to the project and value of the property after the conversion.

Monday, August 28, 2006

240 Unit Condo Development on the Way in Dallas

DALLAS (dallasnews.com) – Crow Holdings and condominium developer Wood Partners of Atlanta will build a retail and loft-style residential complex in the Design District at Oak Lawn Ave. and Hi-Line Dr. The complex will house 240 lofts with up to 40,000 square feet of ground floor retail, showroom and gallery space. Crow will upgrade utilities, landscaping and lighting to make the area more pedestrian friendly.

The City of Dallas' Design District Tax Increment Financing District will provide $4.4 million in funding. The Design District is adjacent to the planned Trinity River park and near the booming Victory project. Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2007.

Dallas has been a hot topic among Austin developers who are interested in moving outside of the city. Dallas and Austin share similarities in the fact that we're appreciation markets and our downtowns are becoming more residential. Although Dallas is a larger city, redevelopment is abound.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

More condos on way to East Austin

Pending approval of a building permit, construction is slated to begin in the fall on Skyline, a $46 million condo project. The 118 upscale lofts will be built by Interurban Development LLC. The six-story Skyline between East Eighth and Ninth Streets will overlook I-35. Prices start in the low $200,000s.

Construction is already underway on another East Austin project, Robertson Hill Apartments, 290 upscale units on San Marcos St. between Ninth and 11th Streets. A spokesman for builder Martin Fein says the first units should be available in the spring. Rents are expected to range from $1,175 for a one bedroom to $2,600 for a two-bedroom unit.

Other projects include the Bel-Air Lofts on South Congress Avenue, where all but one of the 48 units in the first phase have sold. Construction is scheduled to begin next month on the second phase - 35 units with prices ranging from about $200,000 to the mid-$300,000s.

Friday, August 25, 2006

'Triangle' in Austin Grabs unique tenants

The Texas A&M Research Center reported on the Triangle, which is north of the University of Texas Campus.

(North Central Austin) - Cencor Urban, the Austin-based mixed-use development arm of Cencor Realty Services of Dallas, broke ground August 2 on the most ambitious retail phase of The Triangle, which will bring an extra 90,000 square feet of space to the project off 45th Street.

Tenants that have signed on include: Galaxy Café, Flipnotics, Dragon Gate by Phoenix, Flying Saucer, Tino's Greek Café. Almost half of the project's total retail space is leased or in negotiation. The new shops are slated to open by fall 2007. Bordered by Guadalupe Street, Lamar Boulevard and 45th Street, The Triangle will include a total of 120,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and 750 apartments once complete. Cencor's partner on the project, Simmons Vedder & Co., is developing the apartment component.

Although The Triangle was at first a shock because they replaced a nice park-like setting on this corner, it is a cool development because it brought luxury apartments and retail to a popular area of town. As mixed-use developments gain popularity in Central Austin, it will be interesting to see how long these types of properties appreciate. All guesses point to steady appreciation for at least the next 5 years.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Austin: Seaholm District Redevelopment Plan Online

The Seaholm Redevelopment is something that many have not heard of. It's sort of old news, but I wanted to report on it because it's moving forward through the city planning department. This East Austin development was given the ok to develop earlier this year and should start construction in 2007. The Austin Statesman reported, "The 150,000-square-foot, art deco-style power is set to be the centerpiece of a mixed-use development that will include cultural, office, retail and residential components. Potential tenants include the Texas Music Hall of Fame, and public television station KLRU and its flagship "Austin City Limits" show."

I wanted to make sure investors, owners, and interested parties knew that the current draft of plans for Seaholm are available on the City of Austin website. The concept is to bring together a mixed-use retail, residential, and arts/cultural development. The architectural drawings are very nice and it looks like the area will be popular. On the real estate front, the houses near the power plant skyrocketed in value. 50x50 residential lots are selling around $145k. This is because the area will be extremely popular, especially with the excellent view of Town Lake.

In West Austin, any real estate along Town Lake or with a view of the lake is expensive and sells/rents quickly. All signs point to any investment in this area being very well spent.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Emergence of 'condotels' in Central Texas increases growth

Bizjournals.com had a good article on how Downtown Austin is changing.

Downtown Austin is becoming a haven for developers looking to cash in on the viability of offering residential properties constructed inside major hotel chains. The concept is known as the "condotel."

Austin is putting its own spin on the condotel format. Area luxury hotels are offering something different to prospective residents seeking relocation to a downtown condominium. The Austin-flavored setup provides residents with all the amenities and extras offered to hotel guests, but goes one step further by offering them a property they can permanently call home.

  • The 5 Fifty Five pioneered the sale of luxury high-rise condominiums atop the Hilton Austin downtown when it opened more than a year ago.
  • The Hilton's condominium units are at 70 percent capacity.
  • The Four Seasons Hotel Austin, located on the site of the former Four Seasons Residences, is working with local developers to provide similar offerings. Austinites desiring the convenience of a luxury hotel will find that it comes with a hefty price tag. Prices start near $300,000 and peak at over $2 million for top-of-the-line properties, adding up to about $600 per square foot.

Baby-boomers had really impacted our city and is partially responsible for the renewed interested in Downtown living. The condotel is a cool concept that I think will become more popular for the next 5-10 years as more Boomers move to cities such as Austin.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Group plans $11M student housing complex in West Campus

I just read today in the Austin Business Journal that a non-profit group called College Houses, Inc. plans to expand their bed count in the "West Campus" area of Austin. They currently have six co-op residential properties with 45 beds. They plan to increase this to 160 by adding several stories to their properties at 1905 and 1907 Nueces.

West Campus is always going to be a great area to live in. The proximity to both the University of Texas and Downtown Austin can't be beat. The only downside to this area is the cost of everything. Land is expensive, duplexes and houses are expensive, commercial properties are expensive. Investors often have a hard time getting the CAP rates that they're looking for.

Although rents are coming back in this area, it's still a little tough to get cash flow. Most investors enter this market understanding that they're buying an appreciation property. Larger commercial investments may have a better chance of paying off than smaller residential investments. In this case, the group already owns the land, which is an optimal situation in that area.

Of course, I'll keep you updated on their progress as well as any other new developments in this part of the city.


Read more online: Group plans $11M student housing complex in West Campus

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"Wiki" Site Posts Austin's Hottest Projects

For those of you clamoring to know about new residential projects in Austin, I found a great WIKI that shares this information. A WIKI is an online encyclopedia that is constructed of posts shared by many authors. Anyone can write to a WIKI and provide their expertise.

I like the WIKI provided by UrbanAustin.org because it's a great way to share information about the latest new real estate projects in Austin. It's tough sometimes finding these details, but Austin is a sharing community. I appreciate the people who posted what they knew and I will follow up by posting any new information that I get as well.

If you go to the WIKI, you'll notice many projects in Downtown and Central Austin. This is where the most appreciation will occur, so buyers are encouraged to stay in the loop by visiting the site every few weeks or at least on a regular basis.

Friday, June 30, 2006

22-story Condo Breaks Ground in Austin

The Austin Business Journal reported on the 22-story condo project that broke ground in Austin this week. The Shore, a 192-unit residential complex, is slated for completion in January 2008. More than 80 percent of the units in a new high-rise condominium tower on Town Lake are committed even though the project just officially broke ground Wednesday.

"The Shore's location on the edge of downtown in a neighborhood known as the Rainey Street District will help improve an area that has been underdeveloped in recent years, says Downtown Austin Alliance Executive Director Charlie Betts. As the development's pre-sales figures illustrate, prime access to both downtown and Town Lake are amenities people are willing to pay, and wait, for.

Now with the nearby Milago Condominiums project close to completion and construction underway on the Mexican-American Cultural Center, Betts says he expects to see more high-density residential developments in the district."

Downtown Austin will continue to grow. We've seen the boom coming for years, but it is now in full swing.

Dee Copeland, Investment Specialist
AustinHomeNews.com, Team Dee Residential
eRealtyAlliance Commercial Real Estate

Monday, June 19, 2006

Downtown Austin Apartments, Condos Are HOT

The Austin skyline is rapidly changing. Within the next two years, there will be at least three new downtown condo developments. The Austin American Statesman newspaper described three projects, two of which will be among the tallest buildings in Downtown Austin when they are complete.

  • The 360 will be 44 floors, 432 units. Prices for one-bedroom units will be just under $200k with two-bed units under $300k. Completion is scheduled for late 2007.
  • Red River Flats will be four floors, 120 units. Rents will range from $1350-2520 per month. Completion is estimated at July 2007.
  • Spring will be at  Third and Bowie streets, near the old Seaholm Power Plant. Units will be $200-400k. The 36 floor, 220 unit complex is scheduled to open in 2008.

For those of you interested, you can read more about Downtown apartments, condos on the rise.

Dee Copeland, Investment Specialist
AustinHomeNews.com, Team Dee Residential
eRealtyAlliance Commercial Real Estate

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Luxury Condos Hot Trend

Realtor Magazine Online recently published an article about the "condo craze" in 2005 and 2006. Luxury condos and condo conversions are a hot trend in the industry. So what's the driving force behind the trend?

Simply stated...penthouses are hot. From the soon-to-be or already retired Baby Boomers to Gen. X Tech Moguls or Corporate VIPs, the luxury condominum market is on an upward trend due to their relatively easy upkeep and lower costs compared to similar single family homes.

According to the article, these luxury condo buyers are "..Specialized buyer looking for a high-quality lifestyle, stunning views, top-notch locations, and world-class amenities — and are willing to pay for it. Luxury condo living is in demand across the country [and] have strong growth in all the major markets..."

Read the full article here.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

200 Unit Complex Slated for San Marcos

First Baptist Church in San Marcos is being redeveloped by Sanctuary Lofts developers. The complex was formerly a 79 year-old church and is located in downtown San Marcos.  This unique development caught the attention of local news crews. News 8 Austin covered the news story and said 100 of the units have already been leased.

Most of the current and future tenants will be students at the Texas State University, which is within walking distance of downtown San Marcos.