We all know that downtown Austin has seen some explosive growth over the last decade. Developers have put up office towers and high rise condos, the bar scene has exploded, and lots of live, outdoor music gets pumped into the night. (Not always to the pleasure of the neighbors.)

But there have been problems in the middle of all that energy: an ongoing homeless presence, a need for noise control, and a lack of affordable housing on site for the people who actually work downtown.

This is an area with vast economic potential. We are talking serious numbers:

- An assessed value of $4.3 billion,

- Downtown tax revenue of almost $75 million,

- Private investment in the neighborhood of $1.5 billion to $2 billion,

- And additional investment by…

1522 Views, 0 Comments

This week I'd like to talk shop a bit. As investors we're going to be in the position to both buy and sell. Given that, we need to understand some of the mechanics of the process from both sides of the fence, client and real estate professional.

Without telling tales out of school, let me share a story. An agent representing a buyer negotiated a contract on a property where the owner had been through several listing agents over the past year.  Red flag number one.  They submitted an offer $15K less than the asking price, which was at the high end of the realistic price of the property.  After much negotiation, an agreement was met and the property was under contract.

The appraisal came back exactly $15K less than the asking price. Red flag number…

1445 Views, 0 Comments

Thanks to all who have emailed asking if I have specific advice for folks who are new to this game. Here's what I tell first time real estate investors they need to do.

1. Find a lender -- one with experience doing investor loans.

2. Find an experienced agent who specializes in investment properties and who is willing to provide the background data you need to make an informed decision as well as educate you.

3. Pull the trigger. Make the purchase. Don't condemn yourself to the land of "woulda, shoulda, coulda."

Those are the broad strokes. Now. A few fine points. Before you ever buy a property, you have to get into the mind space of being a landlord. Far too many first timers think this is just a matter of buying a property and turning it…

1885 Views, 0 Comments

If there's one thing that's music to a landlord's ears it's the news that the market is trending toward rent increases. According to a Marcus and Millichap survey quoted in the Austin Business Journal, rents on 1-4 unit properties are inching up this quarter by 4.2% with another 5% predicted for next quarter. Add this on top of the overall 2010 gain of 5% calculated by the Texas Apartment Association and this is a very, very good time to be real estate investors.

Essentially three factors are contributing to this upward trend, starting with improved unemployment figures and, in general, a better economic outlook, yesterday's plunge on the stock market notwithstanding. It's very tempting and very easy to watch a day like that and to listen to…

1796 Views, 0 Comments