Video of Teravista Home

Check out this home at 1694 Greenside Trail on the 17th hole of the Teravista Golf Course!

Teravista Home Features

Like many of the golf course homes in Teravista, both the interior and exterior of the home is required to be on a more ‘upgraded’ level from the builder than the other homes in the community. These upgrades include four-sides masonry, granite countertops and more. Although buyers can select these upgrades in any of the homes in Teravista, the golf course homes are automatically held to a higher set of upgrades.

If you would like more information about homes for sale in Teravista or about buying from a builder vs. resale, please contact me today.

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Video of East Austin Home

Take a look at this modern East Austin home that combines style with energy efficiency. Granite counters, concrete & bamboo floors and more storage space than you would expect! This home also has an alarm system, sprinkler system and is wired for surround sound. 

The best part of this home – it is less than 2.5 miles to Downtown Austin and near many of the favorite hot spots for East Austinites!

To get more information about the features of this East Austin home, or learn more about East Austin homes for sale, please send me an email.

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Is Cedar Park Becoming a “Destination City”?

Could Cedar Park, a city just northwest of Austin, become known as a “destination city”? With the all the new growth and now talks of Schlitterbahn coming to town, it could happen. Plans could be announced as soon as tonight of the new Water Park. This would be Schlitterbahn’s 5th water park and the largest one in terms of acreage.

New Hotels, Cedar Park Event Center

Last year Cedar Park opened the doors to the home of the American Hockey League’s Texas Stars, the Cedar Park Center. It is the 3rd largest indoor mixed-use venue in Central Texas and host events and concerts as well.  This event center is drawing crowds from all over Texas.  I’ve also noticed an increase in the amount of hotels in the area, such as Holiday Inn Express and more.

If your family is growing like Cedar Park and you need a bigger home or if you would like to relocate to this growing “destination city”, contact me! Also, be sure to check out Cedar Park real estate using our Austin MLS search tools. I can be YOUR Cedar Park Realtor to get you into your perfect new home, possibly with a water slide in its back yard!

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February Calendar of Austin Events

Check out this list of Austin events for the month of February, courtesy of Austin Monthly.  Surely there’s something here for everyone, so get out there and enjoy Austin at one of these great events.
 
February 6th
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
13th Annual Series of themed dinners held in private homes.
Tickets: $100/person; Contact: www.projecttransitions.org
 
February 6th
Rodeo Austin Gala
Benefits Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo Scholarship Program. Dwight Yoakum performing.
Tickets: $150/person; Contact: www.rodeoaustin.com
 
February 6th
Stride and Ride
Teams of 5 or more walk to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Central Texas.
Contact: www.mda.org
 
February 6th
Brewing Hope Charity Pub Crawl
Grab some friends and create a pub crawl team with portions of proceeds benefiting the National MS Society.
 
February 6th
Tango at the Villa
Gala benefiting Seton Medical Center Williamson.
Tickets: Sponsorships from $3,000; Contact: www.setonwilliamsonfdn.org
 
February 6th
Toma Mi Corazon
18th Annual event encouraging artists to submit works in the shape of a heart to be sold in a silent Austin benefiting the group.
Tickets: $10/person; Contact: www.lapena-austin.org
 
February 7th
St. Valentine Gala & Presentation of the 2010 Senior Class
Celebrates local high school seniors while raising funds for Hospice Austin.
Tickets: $125/per adult, $75 for students 21 and under; Contact: www.hospiceaustin.org
 
February 13th
Make a Difference 2010: Celebrate La Vie Nouvelle
11th Annual Make a Difference Gala raises awareness and funds for the New Life Children’s Center.
Tickets: $100/person; Contact: www.lsss.org
 
February 14th
For the Love of One World Gala
Proceeds benefit One World and its many programs.
Tickets: $500/person; Contact: www.oneworldtheatre.org
 
February 14th
Austin Marathon and Half Marathon
Run 26 miles for 26 charities in this marathon. This year will include approximately 40 entertainment acts for participants.
Tickets: $90 to $125/person; Contact: your www.austinmarathon.com
 
February 17th
Nine Core Values Award Luncheon
The First Tee of Greater Austin honors nine area leaders.
Tickets: $75/person; Contact: www.firstteeaustin.org
 
February 20th
2010 Spring Swing Sock Hop on the Hill
Proceeds support St. Stephen’s commitment to provide financial aid to its students in need.
Tickets: $300/two person table; Contact: www.sstx.net
 
February 20th
St. Francis School’s 25th Anniversary Celebration
Support the students at St. Francis, held at the UT Alumni Center.
Tickets: $75/person; Contact: www.stfrancis-school.org
 
February 20th
Texas Asian Chamber of Commerce Lunar New Year Celebration
Honors the achievements of Asian Americans during this 14th annual event.
Tickets: $TBD; Contact: www.txasianchamber.org
 
February 20th
Viva! Las Vegas
Proceeds benefits AIDS Services of Austin
Tickets: $50/person; Contact: www.asaustin.org/viva
 
February 23rd
Heart & Sole
Fundraising event for Rise School of Austin.
Tickets: $TBD; Contact: www.riseschool.org/Austin
 
February 24th
Mosaic Luncheon
Proceeds benefit the Women’s Division of the Jewish Community Association of Austin’s Campaign.
Tickets: $TBD; Contact: www.shalomaustin.org/mosaic
 
February 26th-28th
Bowl for Kids’ Sake
Big Brothers and Big Sisters fundraising event.
Tickets: sponsorships from $1000; Contact: www.bigmentoring.org
 
February 27th
2010 Eanes City Limits Gala
“Excellence Forever” fundraiser for the Eanes Education Foundation.
Tickets: $150/person; Contact: www.eaneseducationfoundation.org
 
February 27th
Art Night Austin
Art Alliance Austin hosts this excursion to some of Austin’s hottest galleries and museums.
Tickets: $75/person; Contact: www.artallianceaustin.org
 
February 27th
Bandana Ball
Benefiting the Ronald McDonald House.
Tickets: $150/person; Contact: www.rmhc-austin.org
 
February 27th
Casablanca Gala
Commemorates CASA of Travis County’s 25th year of helping abused and neglected children.
Tickets: $150/person; Contact: www.casatravis.org/gala.aspx
 
February 27th
Deal for a Cure
Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament and Casino Night benefitting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Tickets: $150/person; Contact: www.jdrf.org/Austin
 
February 27th
Red, Hot & Soul
Zach Theatre’s largest fundraiser gala.
Tickets: $250/person; Contact: www.zachtheatre.org
 
February 28th
Austin Community Keepsake Award
Proceeds benefit Meals on Wheels and More, held at Antone’s.
Tickets: $TBD; Contact: www.mealsonwheelsandmore.org
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National Home Prices Rise For 6th Consecutive Month

The latest Case-Shiller index housing valuations were released today, and home prices for the 20-city index rose for the 6th straight month for November.  The index value was up 0.2% for November, to a value of 145.49.  Demand has increased dramatically, largely in part to tax incentives for first-time home-buyers and the new amendments to the tax credit for prior owners. 

The baseline of the index is a value of 100 for all cities according to their respective prices in January, 2000. The highest point measured on the index was 189.93 for Q2 2006.

Austin and the Case-Shiller Index

Demand in Austin has risen over the last few months. There has been a dramatic increase in Austin homes sales in the first-time homebuyer valuations, while homes in the upper price ranges have lagged behind, until recently.  Homes in several affluent neighborhoods, such as Zilker in South Austin, have had recent sales of some of their higher-end homes.

We at Team Ensor have been very busy with homebuyers in Austin over the last few months, and we expect it to continue throughout the spring as the countdown continues toward the housing tax credit expiration.

Source: Yahoo Finance

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Cedar Creek Park in Bastrop County Now Open

Cedar Creek Park

Bastrop County has a new treasure!   The first ever Bastrop County Park sit on almost 40 acres located at FM21 and FM 535, just behind Cedar Creek Elementary.  Bastrop really came together for this one: BISD conveyed the land and LCRA partnered with Texas Parks and Wildlife to match the land value with funds.  The park is a beautiful new place for families and for future residents of Bastrop to enjoy.

Features of the new Bastrop County Park include: 

  • Full Size football/rugby field
  • Full & small soccer fields
  • Two baseball fields
  • T-ball diamond
  • Basketball
  • Horseshoe pits
  • Toddler playscape
  • Sheltered grills and picnic tables
  • Dominoes pavilion
  • Nature trails
  • Historic sites
  • Primitive scout area

This is only the beginning of great new things coming to the growing community of Bastrop.  If you would like more information on some of the great properties in Cedar Creek or Bastrop homes that are near the park, contact me!  I welcome the opportunity to become your Bastrop real estate agent.

Pictures of Bastrop County Park near Cedar Creek Elementary

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Using In-House Lenders From Austin Home Builders

I recently had a closing with a client who bought a beautiful new home from D.R. Horton in a rural area, just outside of Austin.  D.R. Horton prides themselves on being a one-stop shop that caters to first-time homebuyers.  This has been one of the keys to D.R. Horton’s success as a national home builder: offer incentives to the buyer if they use their in-house title company and their in-house lender.  If the buyer chooses to use their lender and title company, D.R. Horton currently offers significant incentives.  When used in conjunction with the USDA loan program, a home buyer can buy a home for practically zero money out of pocket.

Are Incentives a Good Idea as a Builder?

Sure, for several reasons.  The builder gets to control the entire process of the transaction.  They know if an issue arises with the lender, they can handle it because it is their internal person handling the loan. Same with title issues.  And, due to current tax laws for corporations and their subsidiaries, companies like D.R. Horton can take advantage of significant tax incentives that far outweigh the discount they offer to buyers.  And they can use these incentives as a marketing tool to attract more sales.  It’s a win-win-win for builders.

Are Incentives a Good Idea as a Buyer?

“No money down and no closing costs to buy a brand new home?  I’ll take two, thanks!”  While it’s true that in certain neighborhoods that qualify for the USDA Loan Program, you can buy a home for no money down, there are some important things that the buyer should research and be aware of before they steal the pen and scribble on the dotted line.

Research the Neighborhood Comps and Don’t Overpay

Be sure you aren’t overpaying for those incentives.  Have your Realtor check comps in the area and the neighboring areas to make sure you are paying a fair price relative to recent solds.

The 2% Funding Fee For USDA Loans

USDA Loans offer 100% financing for buyers that qualify for the program, and for select rural neighborhoods that qualify (although there is talk that the USDA loan program will begin phasing out certain Austin neighborhoods soon.)  Buyers should be aware of this 2% fee, even though it is rolled into the loan.  In essence, the buyer is paying 2% more for the house than the purchase price, and it is added into the amortization table over 30 years.

Compare Their Lender’s Note Rate to Outside Lenders

The old adage “What the big print giveth, the small print taketh away” could apply here.  Up-front incentives are great, as long as they don’t cost you more over the long-term.  Be sure to do the long math to make sure that it still pays to use the builder’s lender.  Mortgage calculators are available for free.  Use them!

Regardless of Incentives, Calculate Your Financial Picture

Everyone considering a purchase of a home, both brand new or resale, should sit down and take a close look at their finances.  Prepare a budget, and truly be aware of how much home you can afford.  If you get stumped, contact a financial advisor who can assist you.

If everything looks great, then and only then you are prepared to pull the trigger and become Austin’s next home owner!

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Bastrop Opera House 2010 Event Calendar

If you haven’t been to a Bastrop Opera House performance, 2010 may be the year to do so. 

Upcoming Events

Beyond Tolerance – Jan 8-16

Cinderella Cinderella – Jan 15 & 16

Oz – Jan. 22,23, 29, 30 & Jan. 31

Plus…

May – Children’s Shows directed by Engela Edwards

June – Musical directed by Engela Edwards

July – Hellzapoppin’ (Take-Two!)  A comedy review with tunes.

More Info on Bastrop Events

Details about each show can be found at http://www.bastropoperahouse.com/ .  This is just one of many activities there is to do in Bastrop…if you are interested in moving to Bastrop and would like to learn more about what the town has to offer, contact me now!

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Upcoming Changes to USDA Loan Program May Disqualify Some Austin Communities

While doing an open house at the model home for Vistas of Stony Ridge, a Lennar Community in Southeast Austin, I got the chance to experience first-hand the character of this neighborhood. Although it was a cloudy day, there was still children playing outside, a neighbor walking her dog, and families taking down their Christmas decorations. It gave me a sense of community about this Del Valle neighborhood – and the guests at my open house agreed. In fact, one guest agreed so much that they decided to purchase a home in the community the very next day.  Let me be the first to say congratulations to Vistas of Stony Ridge’s newest homeowner!

Vistas of Stony Ridge and the USDA Loan Program

Vistas of Stony Ridge is one of the communities that currently qualify for the USDA loan program. For those of you that don’t know, USDA offers buyers 100% loans without mortgage insurance and does not require a down payment. (Contact me for more information on this loan program).  However, when speaking to a lender today about Vistas of Stony Ridge and the USDA program, she mentioned that the program will be reevaluated this year and that this neighborhood and several others around Austin may not qualify for the program for much longer.

This means if you are on the fence and are considering a home in one of the outlying areas of Austin, like Del Valle, then now may be the time to act!  Interest rates are still low, prices are competitive, and you can buy a home now with the USDA program for practically no out-of-pocket expense.

Your Austin Area Realtor

Contact me today to learn more about this community or other communities such as Del Valle and let’s talk about what options are available to you.

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Zillow Strikes Again with Pricing Errors in East Austin

Today I met with a very nice gentleman to discuss strategies for selling or not selling some of his East Austin properties. During my presentation he stopped me and asked, “What do you think of Zillow?”

The Six-Figure Mistake

I briefly described to him the flaws of national real estate sites like Zillow and Trulia. He then let me know that one year ago his lot in East Austin was valued by Zillow at $250,000. As much as I would love to tell him that’s what he could make by selling his lot, the truth is that the value is much, much lower. This lot would never have been valued at that price even a year ago, yet Zillow gave him the false impression that it was.

For privacy purposes I won’t disclose how much his property is currently valued at, but let’s just say Zillow had priced his Austin real estate at more than double it’s real value – that is a HUGE discrepancy, and it’s a shame when companies like this get people’s hopes up as to what their property values are, and then homeowners use these false numbers to calculate their net worth.

Go Local for Austin Home Values

There are many dangers and pitfalls when using these national online sites, and this is a great example. When you want to know how much your Austin property is worth, contact an Austin Realtor who will be willing to provide you with accurate numbers through a CMA that will show market trends, or hire an appraiser. I am never too busy to help Austinites get the real facts about their property, homes, or condos.

If you’ve had any issues with valuations at Zillow or Trulia , post a comment below.

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