Austin.. conditions?

Hi all,
Well, my wife and I are in Los Angeles now, but moving to Austin June 20th so my wife can do grad school at UTA! We’re pretty excited.

We’re also thinking of buying a house pretty quickly, since I’m guessing interest rates are going to be rising over the next year. Hopefully they won’t move up another 1% in the next 3 months again :slight_smile:

So I’m just looking for some general advise in the Austin area… things like market conditions, etc. Any advise would be appreciated. Basically our main goal is to get reasonably good value for ourselves as a long term buy-- though we are possibly interested in a duplex as well if the numbers make sense. The bad news is neither of us are experienced at real estate, the good news is we aren’t looking for a killer deal-- we may even buy “at retail” so to speak so there isn’t as much pressure.

Our situation: we are looking to buy a house in the range of $90k - $150k, preferably on the lower end of the spectrum of course. But there are so many options, so many good choises :slight_smile: So far we have just been looking at the 78744 zip code (south austin), based on doing searches on (MLS) and looking at crime stats, etc, it looks like it is good value for the money. At least it looks like it is if we buy something in one of the nicer areas/communities of that zip code. We don’t want to be too far from downtown / UT campus though either. We are considering all of the following:

  • Buy a new construction-site home for $150k, that is 1500 sq feet with some nice upgrades.

  • Buy a new constuction-site home for $120k, that is 1100 sq feet without many upgrades.

  • Buy a resale house in the $90-$120k range, probably around 1300 sq feet or so.

  • Buy a duplex, and rent out 1 unit. I haven’t done much price analysis here yet though I’ve heard rents are weak (I expect rents to start rising in Austin much more and gain some steam over the next 10 years however-- just my opinion).

  • Buy a foreclosure. I just met an agent who said foreclosures are excellent bargains right now, on average give a discount of 20%. He said there was a 900 sq foot house in our target zip code that just sold for 42k. I don’t know the details but I’m guessing at that price it was pretty run down and in a bad neighborhood, but perhaps we could find something in move-in nice shape in a nice neighborhood that forcloses for 65-90k I would hope.

  • I also saw a new housing development near downtown Austin… I saw a house after upgrades we’re looking at 210k for 1700sq feet or so. We don’t want to stretch our budget that much though, but talk about a nice appreciation play if Austin’s economy starts taking off again (is that happening at all or is it still in damage control mode from the tech burst?) So that is just a wishful thinking house I’d throw in there for fun :slight_smile:

So really we have no idea what we want to do other than get in some kind of house for ourselves. From what I’ve read, it looks like it is a neutral market now, with stable (not rising) prices, maybe a tiny bit skewed to the buyer’s market side. Is that accurate?

Sorry for the general / open-ended nature of this post… just looking for some random thoughts or musings of my soon-to-be-fellow Austiners :slight_smile:


Howdy Taric:

You are right about your assumptions as far as i have seen. Kind of steady and level for now. Unemployment rates just improved to 4.3 % but noone I know has enough money. My friends own an antique store and sales are rare. They are still optimistic but hurting. Great idea to buy and hold. I personally like the 78745 zip code area for my family to live in South Austin. This would be around William Cannon area West of I35. I like your idea of newer property for less upkeep. Hope I have helped a bit for you

Good luck and thank you,
Ted P. Stokely Jr


Thanks for the help! Also I got some responses from others through email, thanks everyone!


One other question if anyone knows… my wife was doing some research on KB Home and found a lot of complaints from people (mostly in Dallas + San Antonio). But we’re wondering how much of that is legitamate, and how much is just sour grapes from former employees and that sort of thing. A friend of mine recently bought a house with them in California and was very pleased with the quality, but maybe it is a different group with different standards in Texas / Austin. Just wondering if anyone here had experiences with them.


Hi -

Can’t say too much about Austin specifically, but the homebuilder you mention isn’t exactly known for quality construction.

Most people are amateurs at buying property – whether it’s for their own use or not is immaterial. They just don’t have the experience.

From what I understand, Austin has some well priced properties if you look carefully. I would certainly be looking at an older home rather than a brand new stick built if profit was my main objective.

See you,

Eric C