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Better to Rent or Own? It’s a question a get a lot. Again the answer isn’t a ‘one-size-fit-all’ type thing because it depends where you live and how expensive it is to purchase vs. rent. However, Trulia has a great...

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Selling in 2011? 5 things you MUST know. If you are considering selling your house in 2011 here are my top 5 things you need to know as a seller. This is one of my few longer posts, just so you’re prepared! Of course my standard disclaimer...

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Austin Housing Affordability… what affordability?

Posted on : 26-08-2010 | By : Sumina | In : Austin, Education

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I was recently at an Workforce Housing Forum held at the Omni downtown, which is only one of 4 such forums offered nationwide. During the course of the 2 days, there was much discussed about the barriers to affordable housing, and how poorly Texas ranks. Exactly how bad? According to the Texas Association of Realtors (or TAR), Texas ranks 44th out of 50 in overall homeownership. Gulp.

That homeownership gap is widest in Texas among Hispanics, who account for 36 percent of the state’s population but only 5 percent of homeowners.

So what are we doing to address the problem? TAR has launched TXHomePrograms.com to help homebuyers indentify programs that are available on the city, county, state and federal level to help with affordability.

Going through the ‘Program Search’ feature on the site with the following criteria, 2 person household, annual household income of $60k, looking in Travis county, and I selected all the programs… guess how many programs were available to help me purchase a home. Drumroll please. Zero. Nada.

Try it for yourself and see if you come up with something different.

So the saying goes, ‘Drive till you qualify’. We’ve got to get more people who work in the city, who are service providers, police officers, medical service providers, living closer to where they are working.

Thoughts?

More positive growth for Texas economy

Posted on : 25-08-2010 | By : Sumina | In : Austin, Education

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Even though the doom and gloom continues for the rest of the nation, our data shows that things are turning around for Austin. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that in my opinion, although Texas and Austin were definitely hurt by the economy, we were no where near as bad as some other places in the nation, and now it seems we are on our way back to recovery.

It isn’t going to be an easy road, but this Monthly Report from the Real Estate Council Association is a good source of information. The most important take-aways for me?

  • After 16 months of job losses, Texas had it’s third positive month of positive job growth
  • The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Texas rose from 7.9 percent in July 2009 to 8.2 percent in July 2010, while the U.S. rate increased from 9.4 to 9.5 percent over the same period.
  • Nineteen Texas metro areas had positive employment growth rates from July 2009 to July 2010, up from 16 for the period from June 2009 to June 2010. San Angelo ranked first in job creation, followed by College Station-Bryan, Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos and McAllen-Edinburg-Mission.

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Sumina’s take away: If you’re in another part of the nation, struggling to find a job, take a look at what Austin has to offer. (the answer is a LOT). Low cost of living, job growth in multiple industries, and a great quality of life with warm weather for most of the year.

East Side Mural

Posted on : 25-08-2010 | By : Sumina | In : Austin

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Clean energy jobs in Texas

Posted on : 25-08-2010 | By : Sumina | In : Austin, Education

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In state level news, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported that they are foreseeing an increase of 22,000 jobs over the next decade in the clean energy sector.

Now, while Lubbock is no Austin, Texas as a state imageapparently leads the nation in solar and wind energy. It must be the vast amount of space our state has to set up wind and solar plants. 

There are obviously many challenges around the clean energy industry, but as our population as a state continues to grow, cities like Austin which are going to absorb some of the overflow from folks coming to our state, problem with already plague us, namely transportation

The article ends with this quote from John Osborne, President and CEO of Lubbock Economic Development Alliance:

In the future, West Texas may become known for its renewable energy as well as its cotton.

“Whether it’s in my lifetime or after my lifetime, we’ll see West Texas where we have farmers who will not necessarily be growing crops,” Martin said. “They’ll be growing energy.”

Cotton and energy. Texas, we have an interesting future together.

Job Hunting? Come to Texas.

Posted on : 31-07-2010 | By : Sumina | In : Austin

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News story from a few days ago from the Austin Business Journal ranks Austin among one of the highest job-growth spots in the nation, third to be exact. Yes, the NATION. Read it and weep (people outside Texas). Not only that, but three other major cities in Texas (Houston, Dallas and San Antonio) also made it as the top 4 in the nation… from one state!

imageOverall this just goes to show that Texas overall has been pretty stable through this economic downturn, and especially here in Central Texas which is what I’ve been telling my clients and people thinking about relocating here. Of course, I’m just slightly biased toward Austin, but hey, with articles like these coming out on an almost weekly basis, who can blame me.

So if you are relocating here for work, know that you are coming to a state with a healthy economy, positive job growth, and of course, tons of good live music, more taco stands than you can throw a stick at, and let’s not forget the BBQ.

Austin tops the list again for small business!

Posted on : 28-07-2010 | By : Sumina | In : Austin

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Okay, so I am in love with my city. I know how awesome Austin is, but to get validation from an outside source just gives me an additional boost to talk to people relocating to Austin to help them see past the gleam in my eye.

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Small business are definitely loved and encouraged in Austin. The whole ‘Keep Austin Weird’ motto of the city and focus on local business is very prevalent throughout the city is being recognized on a national level.

The article does a great job actually putting numbers behind the rah-rah-rah. Although I’ve been telling clients and those relocating to Austin that we’ve been pretty well protected here in Central Texas with the recent economic situation, reading that as nationwide employment dropped between 2004-2009, Austin’s employment increased by 16%, helps put some facts behind where I sense the market is.

A great shout-out to Austin Dirty Dog which got a mention in the Kiplinger’s article. It’s one of my favorite local business where I take my mutts to get cleaned up and make them all shiny and clean again.

Austin as one of the fittest cities in the NATION!

Posted on : 25-05-2010 | By : Sumina | In : Austin

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Wow, what are we doing right as a city that Dallas, Houston and San Antonio are not? Is it the University of Texas presence? An overall younger population? Having Lance Armstrong and Whole Foods here? The 200+ parks we have scattered throughout the city? 9 months of warm weather?

imageWhatever the reason I say good for Austin, helping raise the bar for health and fitness in our state.

 Shape Magazine ranks Austin as the 10th fittest city in the nation.  Yippee! So I guess that means I should join my fellow Austinites in my attempt at getting fitter. See you out on the trails!

Austin Agents? Referring business’ to clients? Be aware of the risks.

Posted on : 24-05-2010 | By : Sumina | In : Austin, Education

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This story came out today in the Austin Business Journal. Wow… as an agent that has a strong network of companies I rely on and trust to refer to my clients, this is bad news. I have had a client have a bad experience with someone I’ve referred (a handyman in this case). It’s bad news all around; the vendor doesn’t understand I’ve put my name on the line to refer them, the client may think I have shoddy alliances with vendors after I’ve talked them up and the work done is sub-par. Bad, bad news for all parties.

What’s an agent to do? I talked to a few fellow agents who say they no longer refer business to anyone because they can’t guarantee how their clients are handled and don’t want the repercussions of being ‘that agent’ who referred a bad vendor. In my mind that’s a bad place to be. I want to be a resource to my clients and want them to ask me when they need a plumber, handyman, or roofer. I want to know that when I send a vendor a client, they are handled with white gloves and they really, and I mean REALLY value the risk I am taking to send a client their way.

In this day of social media and instant messaging… where a plumber who did a bad job can be talked about on Twitter, a photo posted of a botched up job, and thousands of people notified before the guy even packs his wrench up, business’ really need to be aware.

My bottom line: take care of your clients, and more importantly (well maybe not), take care of the people who are sending you business. That’s my .02 on the issue.

Schlitterbahn Coming to Cedar Park

Posted on : 29-01-2010 | By : Sumina | In : Austin, Education

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So the biggest water park in Texas which is located in New Braunfels is building another water park in Cedar Park. Hmmmm. Interesting. So the biggest water park, is possibly building another one 51 miles away? How does this make sense? Am I missing a piece of the puzzle?

For those folks who live in Cedar Park, what’s your take? Is this going be a good thing in terms of tax revenue and tourism from surrounding areas? Or is the traffic going make things crazy out there?

Let me know your thoughts!

Great Time Lapse of the W Hotel in Austin

Posted on : 28-01-2010 | By : Sumina | In : Austin

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Sometime it seems like time slips away, and all of a sudden a new building is up! I know if you are not downtown all that often, you are definitly going to be surprised by the progress at the W Hotel. Take a look at this time lapse video.