Get a Degree and you get to Rent

The headline doesn’t make sense but it is a true statement.  As taken from a recent article in REALTOR magazine, a recent federal study found that the cost of getting a college degree is keeping many grads from home ownership for about seven years.  I can personally state that the amount of student loans is sometimes staggering as I’ve reviewed hundreds of applications of recent grads whose debt to income ratio is way out of proportion which is one of the reasons they are renting.  It’s not uncommon to see a student loan payment of $500 a month coupled with a new car payment (hey I just graduated why not treat myself) of $450 and credit card debt of $250 a month.  Subtract what the feds take out in income tax, social security etc. and all of sudden there is too much month left at the end of the pay check.  Couple this with the fact that millennials are predisposed to move around anyway and you can make a good case for own well placed residential real estate to accommodate their life style.

If you didn’t catch the news, Apple is expanding in north Austin and will add 5,000 new jobs and a recent report states that the Austin population will grow to over 1,000,000 by 2021.

Now aren’t you glad that you own Austin area residential real estate!

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 17 Jan 19

Renting vs. Buying – If I Could

As recently reported in RECON, an on line reporting firm for real estate professionals, a study by ATTOM Data Solutions 2019 Rental Affordability Report stated that for every $1,000 price increase of a home that 127,500 people are priced out of buying a home.  The study compared wages to rent to obtain a percentage of wages towards rent and to buying a median priced home with a 3% down payment.  They then added in property taxes, property insurance, and private mortgage insurance which is required by most lenders for folks not having a 20% down payment.  I note that it is interesting that they didn’t calculate any repair or maintenance costs which I do when analyzing an investment property.  Could they possibly think that a home is maintenance free?!

Over 71% of the 45 Texas counties surveyed (Texas has 254 counties) were found to be more affordable to rent than to buy.  In our area that included Travis county (Austin, Pflugerville, Oak Hill), Williamson county (Round Rock, Georgetown, Leander, Cedar Park), and Hays County (Kyle and Buda).

The study reported that affordable housing (especially in our area) is becoming scarce because of many reasons:

  1. Dwindling number of affordable lots
  2. Increase in building materials
  3. Increased labor costs
  4. Increasing property taxes (I added this one)

So what does this mean for us residential real estate investors in our local area?  It means that you have a potential gold mine.  If it is cheaper to rent than to buy, why buy (even if you could)?  With Apple adding 5,000 additional jobs to our local area that will spin off even more jobs and that means more potential renters for our properties.

Not to mention that this week a local economic forecaster this week stated that Austin will reach a population of 1,000,000 in 2020.

All these folks have to live somewhere and in something and that folks is our gold mine.

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 10 January 19

Austin’s Economy – Reading the Tea Leaves

A recent article in our local paper, the Austin American Statesman, had forecasts from many local economic gurus who gave their opinions on what to expect in 2019. In sum, this year should be similar as 2018 but perhaps not quite as robust as the national economy (look at the stock market this first week of 2019) is showing signs of sagging a bit. Yet Austin is predicted to weather the stormy weather. Here’s why the tea leaves bode well for our august area.

Andrew Glover, a UT economic prof predicts that Austin for 2019 should continue with low unemployment and a high growth rate.

Major players in our area are expanding. Apple will add 5,000 additional jobs to a new north campus. Samsung will add 550 new jobs. Indeed, an online job search firm will be adding as many as 3,000 new jobs as will Oracle.

Eldon Rude, a long time fixture on reading the Austin economic tea leaves stated that there may be a retreat in home building because of higher interest rates and higher home prices. This coupled with the scarcity of affordable lots makes it difficult to build an affordable house. The median price of an average home in our area has increased 40% in the past five years.

Remember when I blogged back then that it was a good time to buy Austin area residential real estate? Well it still is.

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 4 January 19

3,000 more jobs coming to Austin!

Indeed is a home grown internet job search site that recently announced that they are expanding their operations over several years because of their success.  Indeed collects job postings from all over the world and posts them on the net, posts job resumes, and research companies.  They have over 200 “million” folks use their site every month.  According to the article in the Austin American Statesman Indeed currently have 1,600 employees and is an active recruiter of engineering talent but also has staff in the fields of finance, legal, sales and marketing, and in corporate development.  New hires will be sought in all of these fields and it sounds if the positions will pay handsomely. A spokesperson for Indeed informed the paper that the reason for expanding in Austin is the same reason why they started here in the first place:  diverse talent pool and Austin is an attractive place to live.

Now these new hires, many of whom will be our good friends the millennials, will need a place to live.  Millennials continue to like to be unattached to real estate and will rent vs. buy.  And this is good news for us who are holding Austin area residential real estate.

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 20 May 18

Round Rock is About to get Wetter!

Recently a local TV station, KXAN, ran a feature piece about a new water park that coming to Round Rock.  Kalahari Resorts broke ground on a 1.5 million (that’s not a typo) square foot “indoor” water park and convention center.  The hotel will have 1,000 rooms and the water park will be the largest in the country. The location is near the Dell Diamond at US 79 and Kenny Ford Road.  The cost of this Texas sized colossal is a cool $550 million.  An estimated 2,000 jobs will be created from this enterprise that is expected to be completed in 2020 and that is great news for us investors in residential rentals as these folks will need to live somewhere.

Now is absolutely a great time to own Austin area residential real estate.

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 16 May 18

Forbes ranks Austin #2

A recent Forbes article has ranked Austin as the number two city for Big City Job Growth.  In fairness Dallas was ranked number one, but then of course one would have to live in Dallas!  The Austin job was cited as having a 3.4 % job growth in 2017 and reportedly grew jobs at 39% since 2006.  What is interesting is that the article stated that the tech industry wasn’t the biggest sector of the job growth; it was in fact professional and business services which grew 37.1% since 2006.  The article went on to state that Austin’s expansion is fueled by population growth (now which comes first, the chicken or the egg?) which showed the strongest increase in cities with populations of 1 million or more.  This influx of new Austinites created jobs in retail, construction trades, and financial services.  So the old adage of “success breeds success” holds true.  And of course these jobs bring diversity to the job market.

The flip of the coin is what is happening on the west coast and especially in Silicon Valley.  Silicon Valley is in fourth place and the article stated that the San Francisco-Redwood City area dropped from being number two and has landed at number eight.  Seattle always a contender, is in ninth place.  The article went on to state that what is hurting the west coast is the high cost of living and that Seattle may be pricing out potential new residents.

Speaking of prices, the Austin area, has seen an approximate 7% home price increase in 2017 and this is of course discouraging some folks from buying a house.  But our prices are well below those of Seattle and the Bay Area, so those migrants to our fair area can, in most cases buy a house if they are being transferred to the Austin area if they want to do so.  However many are millennials and would rather rent then buy at least in the near future.

All of this sets up a perfect reason for owning Austin area residential real estate.

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 8 May 18

Charles Schwab Expands in Austin

As reported in the Austin American Statesman Charles Schwab will be expanding its Austin presence by an additional 470,000 square feet of office space (that’s almost eleven acres) to house hundreds of new hires.  Schwab already has 1,900 employees in Austin. The expansion will be the creation and enhancement of digital products for their customer base and in all fairness they are also expanding these services in San Francisco.  Austin was chosen because of the talent pool available to meet their needs.  The location for this facility will be near the Domain, a high end retail, dining, and condo area in north Austin.

This good news is just another good reason why owning Austin area residential real estate is a great idea.

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 4 May 19

Merck Coming to Austin

Austin is now home to the Dell Medical School a teaching hospital that has replaced the old Brackenridge Hospital.  This development has caught the eye of Merck a giant in the world of pharmaceuticals and who now plans to develop an innovative technology center in our fair city with an investment of over $29 million in sticks and bricks near the hospital. This will also create over 600 new jobs with an average pay over $85,000 a year.  A Merck spokesman stated that their presence will likely spur an innovative zone drawing similar businesses to the area and assumingly with similar pay.

This is great news for us investors having Austin area residential rentals.  Yes most of these folks drawing that kind of pay will probably become homeowners.  But many of them will rent first and buy later.  Also, each firm will have others on staff that won’t be drawing that kind of pay and who will be renters.  And of course there are always ancillary services needed by these companies and they too will have persons who need to have a place to live.  And that folks is where we come into the picture.

Paul Hilgers, CEO of the Austin Board of REALTORS spoke at a luncheon this week and stated (and this is about right) that the average rent in Austin has increased about 40% over the last 7 years.  The average wage in Austin has increased about 4% of the same time.  The point, regardless of the figures, is that it is becoming exceedingly difficult for people to buy a home in the Austin area because of the increase in home prices which in turn means a larger down payment. It is becoming difficult to save for the down payment because that figure has been moving upward.  So this means that leasing a home is becoming the option of necessity if not by choice.

Rick Ebert/Austin, Texas/20 July 17

Austin Based Home Away Adding 2,000 Jobs

It was reported in today’s Austin American Statesman that Austin based Home Away will be adding an additional 2,000 new jobs starting in 2019.  For those of you that are not familiar with Home Away, they are a company that lists short term rentals for owners and has recently been purchased by Expedia.  The location of the new headquarters will be a new 315,000 square foot office tower located in the Domain.  The Domain is the site of the former IBM plant located at Braker Lane and Burnet Road.  The Domain has it all, Tiffany’s, Whole Foods, lots of top scale restaurants and top notch apartments.  Very first class indeed.   When you consider that Expedia is located in Bellevue, Washington, but that the expansion is taking place in Austin, it says a lot about what corporate America this of Austin.  I think that the cost of construction had a lot to do with it.  It’s been a while since I visited friends living in Bellevue, but as I recall, there isn’t much of a place to build there, and if you tried to build, it would empty your pockets.  Then too, there is cost of living, Austin is much cheaper than many high tech areas.

All the more reasons for owning Austin area residential real estate.

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas  / 23 June 17

1 Million Fewer Homeowners today than 10 Years Ago

At a recent conference held in Berkeley California, Ken Rosen president of the National Association of REALTORS, and University of California economist Ken Rosen gave their views on why there are fewer homeowners today verses ten years ago.  It is something of a mystery but the speakers did a good job of unrevealing it for us.  One reason is that many people still remember the bad times of all of the nations’ foreclosures and how long it took to get back on our feet.  So these folks are shell shocked and avoid buying a home.  That is good news for us investors in residential real estate as we can provide good housing for those that are risk avoiders.  Reasons also cited included:

  1. The shortage of single family homes.  Production of single family homes simply hasn’t kept up with demand.  Nationwide there is an estimated 3.7 million deficit over the last eight years.  And in the Austin area, the cost of acquiring land has increased dramatically.
  2. The price of buying a home has increased due to the lack of inventory (see #1).
  3. Student loan debt is high and this keeps many young families from buying a home.  They simply can’t save for the down payment while paying off this debt.  And as they continue to pay down student loans the cost of buying a home increases.  It seems for many to be a moving target.
  4. Mortgages are harder to come by today than yesteryear with stricter qualifying standards in place.  I think this is a good thing.  As we investors know only too well, there is more to owning a house than just making the mortgage payment.  Those window treatments and plants really start to eat into the pocket book.  Then comes the maintenance expenses.

So folks for the foreseeable future owning a well-placed piece residential rental in a growing area like Austin is a good investment.

Rick Ebert Austin, Texas / 12 June 17

How much cheaper is Austin Compared to ???

A recent article in the Austin Relocation Guide compared living in Austin to other major cities.  Specifically, how much money does it take to have a decent lifestyle in Austin when moving away from these cities?  The study assumed that the person was making $60,000 a year.

For instance it you make $60,000 in Detroit you only need to make $59,440 in Austin.  The plus side here is our winters are the envy of the nation.

Moving from here to Austin you only to make this much to have the same lifestyle:

San Francisco:                    $32,173
Boston:                                $39,397
Denver:                                $51,996
Seattle:                                 $39,381
New York City:                   $33,431
Los Angles:                         $39,819
Chicago:                              $48,354
Portland:                             $45,225

Why such a large gap in wages to sustain the lifestyle?  Because Texas does not have a state income tax and is frugal in spending tax dollars.  These reasons coupled with a favorable climate, good roads, and a can-do business attitude that attracts employers and thus creates jobs, means that you can live here for less than similar size cities.  And since these new arrivals need housing, coupled with the fact that the demographic of the typical renter and homeowner are changing, it means that landlords are in a great position.

Rick Ebert/ Austin, Texas / 29 April 17

What Renters Say About Renting

A recent article in the “Daily Real Estate News” quoted a survey from Freddie Mac of renters about how they view renting.  The information is pretty much on target with other information I have gleaned from other sources, so I consider the information in the survey to be more of a confirmation of trends that I have seen in the Austin area and with our managed properties.  Here it is:

  • Renters are not likely to move even if there is a rental increase
    • Overall percentage was 55% plan to stay
    • Those who stated that they plan to move within the next 2 years dropped from 38% to 33%
    • 60% of those aged between 35 to 49 stated that they plan on staying put vs. leaving even if there is a rental increase
  • Generally, renters like where they live and feel good about renting
  • Fewer renters are working towards home ownership
  • Fewer renters are planning to buy a home within the next few years
  • Of those surveyed who plan to move 59% plan on renting vs. buying a home
    • This is a 55% increase over September 2016
  • Tenants who expressed an interest in owning a home in the future dropped to 41% from 45% in September 2016.

So what does this tell us?  Answer:  That owning a residential rental that is in good repair and well maintained and located in a desirable area is a product that will have a tenant.  Reading between the lines, it also tells me that the tenant will take some pride in residing in the property which should translate to taking care of it.  All the while as home prices continue to rise in our area we have a tenant who is helping us increase our equity position in the property and provides cash flow.

How sweet it is!

~Rick Ebert

Austin Job Growth 3.3% in 2016

According to a recent article in our local paper, the Austin American Statesman, the job rate in Austin and our surrounding cities was 3.3% in 2016. This is really great news but the article pointed out that this figure was off a tad from previous years. Payroll increased by 3.8% meaning that employees are earning more money. All of this bodes well for us investors in residential rentals as it means that our area continues to grow and attract both employers and employees who need housing. And since housing is still in short supply here, and since interest rates have increased and look as if they will continue to increase, coupled with the increased price of homes making saving for down payments more difficult, it looks like renting is the option for our new transplants. When you factor in that many people are “choosing” to rent vs. buying a home, such as retirees and minerals, this is driving the average rent price upwards.

Looks like the good times will continue to roll on for us – especially if you own Austin area rentals.

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 26 March 17

Austin is Number 1

According to an article in US News and World Report this week Austin, Texas is the number one spot to live and to buy a home.  Just an FYI last year Austin was ranked number two on the list.  The survey examined the top three ranking metro areas to come up with Austin as being number one the last.  Austin beat out Denver, Colorado and my home town of San Jose, California.  With San Jose being such an expensive place to buy a house I’m really surprised that it made the cut.  A part of the qualifying process was linking job opportunities and finding a home that that is affordable.

Well Austin and the surrounding cities are indeed affordable by nationwide comparisons, but the value of housing continues to increase yearly and is becoming more unaffordable for many in our area.  This is based on the fact that Austin home buyers and home renters pay only 27 percent of their income on housing.  Household incomes are not rising fast enough to match the rising home prices according to the Austin Board of REALTORS.

This information tells me that Austin and the surrounding cities continue to be a great place to own residential rent properties, why:

  1. Austin area property values continue to increase yearly
  2. Job growth continues to be strong in our local area
  3. Nationwide there is a tendency for people to rent housing vs. buying a house
  4. Millennials prefer to rent housing vs. buying a house, and there are plenty of them here
  5. As home values continue to increase rental houses in our area build up tax-free equity

All of this adds up that it is a great time to own Austin area residential real estate.

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 2.9.17

Two Congratulations to Mike Gonzales RPM® TRLS

Mike Gonzales is awarded the Austin area chapter of NARPM® “Member of the Year” award by chapter president Michael Ebert. Mike Gonzales’s was cited for his contributions and continuous support to the Austin NARPM® chapter and to his unfaltering assistance to the chapter president.  Mike Gonzales stated that he was both surprised and honored to be the recipient of the award.

This year Mike Gonzales is the president of the Austin NARPM® chapter. As incoming president he takes the reins from outgoing president Michael Ebert.  Austin Landmark Property Services, Inc., CRMC® is proud to have on their staff such dedicated professionals who promote the highest standards of excellence to be found in our industry.

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 6 Jan 17

Why Aren’t Home Builders Building?

This was the headline in a recent post in REALTOR Magazine this week.  There were several reasons cited in the article.  Leading the list among them were increasing regulations regarding building.  The article stated, but did not identify what kind of regulations were adding to the cost of building new homes but the cost was estimated to have increased to 29% of the cost of construction over the last five years. I assume this means not only implementing the regulations but also finding the hardware and training craftsmen to make the changes through trail and error.  These costs can include building around trees, impervious cover, set back requirements meaning less land to build on, the height of door handles and light switches all of which have to be designed and then implemented, and the list goes on and on.  Additionally builders are citing the lack of suitable labor and the increasing cost of lots to build upon. 

My take on all this means that if you own a residential rental right now that you are in a good place.  Take all of the above, now factor in the rising interest rate and probably more to come, and the lack of folks to save for a down payment, and you have a lot more people needing to rent vs. being able to buy a house.  Now add in the millennials who have a penchant for “wanting to rent” as a life style choice vs. having to rent, and this throws more prospective renters into the market.  So with a shrinking inventory or rentals, say in the Austin area, and a bunch of folks moving here to take jobs, coupled with the millennials and with those who can’t afford to buy a house and you get rising rental rates.

Just a few good reasons for owning Austin area residential rentals!

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 23 Dec 16 

What and Who is an Austinite?

In the December issue of Impact, a local monthly area-wide newspaper, the publication cited several facts obtained from the Austin city auditor’s office.

Population: For starters the report cited that the city is expected to increase its population by 88,419 over the next five years.  The report didn’t clarify if the increase was from folks coming here of from children being born here.  Either way that amounts to 49 people a day on the average.  This figure actually seems low to me as Austin has seen in the last e years an average of 100 people a day relocating and other sources indicate that this trend isn’t slowing.  Time will tell.  The number of Austin households is expected to grow from 356,998 from 2015 to 395,686 by 2020 which is just a tad over 10%.  Not surprising, the number of families is expected to expand to 201,371 from 183,564.  That figure is also a bit of a 10% increase.

Income: The average Austinite earns $52,460 a year or $4,371 a month.  This figure is just about on target for the average ALPS renter (actually a bit lower).

Housing Costs:  The report stated that renters spend 48% less on housing costs than homeowners with renters reportedly spending $1,240 monthly for rent and homeowners spending $2,390 for a mortgage payment.  Frankly, I don’t buy those figures.  A small one bedroom apartment in a decent area will run $1,100 a month here, and it goes up from there; way up!  I also base my thinking on our average rent in our managed properties are over $1,500 a month.  Also taking into consideration that the “average” Austinite who earns $4,371 month would typically qualify for a rent of $1,457 – so go figure?  The report also stated that 57% of all households rent vs. 43% who are homeowners.

The Californians are Coming!  Well  no surprise there.  In a recent article in the Austin American Statesman a piece stated that 8 Californians a day migrated to our fair city between 2010 and 2014.  And just what part of California is seeing the most of this outflow?  Guess what it isn’t Silicon Valley but amazingly it is Los Angeles!  And why are they leaving.  Well for one thing they are living in California (my former home state) and what does California have and Austin doesn’t have?  Affordable housing, a “go to” work spirit, and lower taxes.  I do give California the edge on having a great climate!  But the Austin area is “climate friendly” when compared to the rest of the nation.

What Does this Mean?  It means that for us investors in Austin area residential real estate that we are in a good place, a very good place.  Our rentals are located in a growing area that is seeing lots of folks coming here, lots of jobs coming here, and folks are making good money to pay the rent.

Rick Ebert/Austin, Texas / 15 Dec 16

Austin Ranks High on Technology / Office Growth is Strong

Recon, the on-line publication from the Texas A&M Real Estate Center, reported this week that Austin ranked number 3 in cities in both the USA and in Canada that have jobs and services in the technology industry.  Tech jobs in Austin grew a whopping 33.3% from 2013 to 2015 vs. the national average growth of 7.3%.  The article didn’t state how many jobs this growth represented but let’s just agree that it is a bunch!

The article also commented on the Austin office market.  Austin ranked second in the nation on net absorption of office space.  Well this fits nicely with all of the high tech jobs coming to office because those firms can’t work out of a tent!  The Austin office market had the distinction of having the 8th highest office rent.

What does all of this mean to us investors in Austin area real estate?  It means that all of these new comers to the Austin area have to live somewhere and residential rentals provide that need.

This is especially true when taking into consideration that many high tech employees are millennials who seem to have an aversion to buying a house.  I interpret this information to mean that the high paying tech jobs spurn office growth which in turn spurns construction jobs, which spurns jobs in the retail and service industries which in turn spurns a demand for housing.  The Austin area has a strong residential rental market and the outlook seems to indicate that this demand will continue into the future.

So hang onto your Austin residential rentals,  keep them well maintained, and enjoy your profits.

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 1 Dec 16

Africa Coming to Round Rock

Local news sources from KXAN and the Austin American Statesman report that an African themed water resort will be coming to Round Rock and is to be built near the Dell Diamond on 350 acres.  This is no small venture and won’t be ready until 2020.  Planned are a 200,000-square foot indoor water park and a 990-room resort hotel.  Also planned is a 150,000 square foot convention center.  There will be several small man-made lakes with restaurants near the water.  The price tag is estimated to be $250M and will have an estimated 700 permeant jobs.  Of course there will be hundreds of construction jobs over the next few years to pull all of this off.  The developer looked at Dallas, San Antonio, Frisco and Houston before deciding on the Round Rock location. What they liked most about Round Rock was the “can do” attitude that the city takes towards development.  Also coming into play were local events and large evens such as Formula One and the Austin City Limits music festival.

This just makes good sense to me.  Since we still have about 150 people a day coming into our area with about 100 of them landing in Travis and Williamson County these folks need a place to take their families and to relax, and of course to spend money.

These are more good reasons that owning Austin area real estate makes good sense.

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 17 June 16

Austin Area Jobs:  Looking Good – No Looking GREAT!

According to a recent article in the Austin American Statesman Austin added 21,200 jobs from October 2015 to October 2016.  To me that figure represents a small city so it is pretty darn impressive.  Shadowing this figure is the Austin metro area unemployment rate which is reported at 3.2%.  To me this means that anyone who wants a job can have one.  In October, 2015 the unemployment rate was a whopping 3.3% so obviously the Austin area is the envy of any city, anywhere, period.  Drew Scheberly from the Texas Workforce Commission was quoted as saying that the average family income in the area is increasing as are the jobs responsible for that and he expects the trend to continue.  Namely there is a demand for people to fill positions in the areas of medical and high tech, all of which have nice pay scales.  Let’s not forget that Samsung recently committed to invest an additional $1 billon in its local chip manufacturing and plans to add 500 engineering jobs.

So for us investors in Austin area residential rentals the future looks sunny and bright.  I’m glad to hold several residential rentals. 

Rick Ebert / Austin, TX/ 21 Nov 16

Austin is a Landlord’s Market

Yesterday local news station KVUE ran a piece on the Austin apartment situation.  The reporter quoted which stated that apartment rents have increased more than 5%  this year.  This trend is expected to continue because, even though many apartment communities have been built construction is expected to slow down because of tightening lending require- ments.  The piece went on to state that renters these days are not necessarily just looking for larger spaces but want amenities.  What does this mean for us landlords of single family dwellings?  It means that we have to offer housing that is well maintained and in good repair.  It also means that we need to offer amenities to go along with the sticks and bricks.  In our area such amenities include ceiling fans in the living room and bedrooms, garage door openers, expanded decks or patios, irrigation systems, and similar items.  These amenities not only shorten the vacancy period but will be reasons for the tenant to remain in place.  Naturally it also adds value to the property.

So owning residential real estate in the Austin area is wise choice that is hard for any other investment to beat.

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 1 Nov 16

Austin Employment Figures are G R E A T !!!

According to a recent article in the Austin American Statesman the employment figures for the Austin area which includes Caldwell, Bastrop, Hays, Williamson and Travis counties is 96.5%.  This is the same figure as last month and it means virtually everyone who wants a job has one.  These counties added over 28,000 more jobs than this time a year ago. That’s amazing and amounts to a 3% annual job growth rate which should be the envy of every city.  Statewide the unemployment rate for this period rose a bit from 4.7% to 4.8% but is still below the national average of 5%.  I wasn’t surprised to read that construction jobs grew by 4,800 jobs over a year ago.  Just about every area around here is seeing some kind of construction work from new construction to remodeling.  Professional and business services added 6,000 new jobs. 

These are great reasons why owning Austin area residential real estate is a good idea and a great investment.

Rick Ebert/Austin, Texas/26 Oct 16

Shelly Longoria Earns RMP Designation

Austin Landmark Property Services, Inc. (CRMC) is proud to announce that Shelly Longoria has the Residential Property Manager designation from the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM®).  Only a few hundred members of NARPM® have earned this designation and that is because are no easy steps to obtain it.  At ALPS we strongly believe that we deliver quality service by having the best educated residential property managers in the industry, and we welcome Shelly to these ranks and invite you to do likewise.  The requirements for the RMP designation are listed below.

RMP® Requirements:

  • Be a current member of NARPM®.
  • Be a currently licensed real estate agent for a period of not less than the 2 previous years. (If your state requires licensing.)
  • Verification of 100 unit years of experience acquired over a minimum of two consecutive years. (One unit year equals management of 1 residential unit for 1 year.) Must manage a minimum of 25 residential units during candidacy period and at the time of achieving the designation.
  • Successfully complete 18 hours of NARPM® approved coursework, plus the NARPM® Ethics course.
  • Earn 50 elective points through service to NARPM®. All Service Verification should be provided on the required 
  • Attend two NARPM® state or regional conferences OR one NARPM® national convention prior to completing candidacy.
  • Submit letters of recommendation from 2 RMP® or MPM® designees and 3 clients. Letters of Recommendation should be completed through online designation packet.

Rick Ebert/Austin, Texas/27 Sept 16

High Tech Firms Flock to Austin

In a report published today by Offices/Americas the JLL Company, a real estate project and development firm, stated that high tech firms are flocking to the Austin and Dallas area. The reasons given are not to us:  relatively low cost of living, well-educated millennial talent pool, a diversified employment talent base, and room to expand (at reasonable expense I should add).  The report covered the top 15 high tech firms in the land and Dallas came in 8th and Austin came in growth.  When measured against being resilient to an economic contraction, Austin placed 3rd, and Dallas came in at 12.  The report stated that this trend is expected to continue and this fits in nicely without sources that I have examined this year.  In order to maintain this pace new buildings and those be retrofitted for high tech firms are adding amenities once considered luxury items.  These include items such as charging stations, helipads, boat launches, hike and bike paths, and the like.

What these means to us investors in Austin area residential real estate is that our rentals must be in a condition to attract these millennials that are moving here.  Start with the basics such as paint and floor coverings that are fresh, nice yards, garage openers, ceiling fans, irrigation systems, and modern kitchen appliances.  In the past I considered offering landscaping as a luxury item, but I (and you) may want to reconsider that option as millennials probably don’t like mowing lawns (do any of us really?).  In our area lawn mowing twice monthly is only needed about 9 months out of the year.  During the dormant months I have the lawn crew trim up the grass and do tree and shrub maintenance only once a month.  It is something to consider as it is a value added amenity and you can probably recoup the monthly cost and maybe even make a few extra dollars if it means that your rental will lease up faster than the completion.

Rick Ebert / 20/Sep /1

Austin Area adds 7,800 jobs in June

Wow!  According to an article in the Austin American Statesman, the metro area added 7,800 jobs in June of this year.  There are cities that don’t have that many inhabitants so I find the number quite impressive.  Texas in general and the Austin area in particular continue to have a robust economy.  Fueling this migration of jobs is the economic well-being of the state which touts no personal income tax, lots of room for expanding or starting a business, and a well-educated population in our major metro areas.  So you might say that Texas and the Austin area are “user friendly” when it comes to job growth.  Leading the charge in our area job growth in June was construction.  Not a surprise here as the businesses coming here have to have buildings in order to function.

Of the 7,800 new jobs, 1,200 were in construction which many consider to be the backbone of middle income wages.  Of course all this means that these wage earners have to spend their money somewhere and in turn this means that the service and hospitability sectors grow, which in turn creates more jobs for our area.  And so the economic wheel continues to churn for our area.  And all of this is good news for us investors or Austin area residential real estate.

Let the good times churn! 

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 23 July 16

Austin is the Right Place!

Nationally apartment rents have risen 64% from 1960 to 2014 according to Apartment List.  They also state that income for the same period have risen only 19%.  Reportedly 37% of all households nationwide rent their domicile, the highest figure in decades and renters are struggling to pay rent.  Austin in contrast has a much different and a much better story.  In Austin almost 53% of the population is renters and it has been this way since I moved here in 1981.  Of course the numbers have fluctuated, but Austin has a high concentration of renters for decades.  Apartment List states that the average apartment rent is currently $1,092 and the average renter is making $4.262 a month.  In 1980 those figures were $761 and $30.227 respectfully.  So in Austin wages are keeping up with the increases in rent and this is good for us owners of local residential rentals.  According to Apartment List the reason for Austin’s success are strong employment growths, attractiveness of the city, and our good friends the millennials. One definition of a millennial is someone born from 1982 to the early 2,000’s.  The USA has a reported 83.1 million millennials in 2015. These folks like their freedom to move about and therefore a big contributing influence to the overall rental population and certainly within the Austin area.  I see them coming to Austin to take good high paying jobs and rent a house.  They are also renewing their leases more frequently than in the past.  In 1971 the typical renter was someone who just graduated from UT and didn’t want to leave and either rented an apartment, condo or a duplex – that has changed a lot.

So how is Austin stacking up to her sister cities?  Apartment List reports that Dallas has increased rents from $761 to $968 on the average since 1980 but the average wage for a Dallas renter actually decreased to $37,237 from $38.406 in 1980.  And Houston has fared even worse.  In 1980 the average rent was $807 and is currently averaging $940 a month.  The average wage for a Houston renter in 1980 was $42,225 and now is only $38.447.

Now is a great time to own Austin area residential rentals!

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 12 July 16

Spring 2016 Realtor® Party magazine

In the spring 2016 Realtor® Party magazine there was an article stating that  the U.S. Census Bureau reports that rental housing accounts for “more” than 1/3 of the nation’s housing and that this trend has been strong during this last decade in part because of the number of folks that went to foreclosure and in part because of the recession.  Apparently a lot of would be homeowners also are spooked by the perceived risks of owning a home.  Another reason is that renting a home vs. owning a home gives one the mobility and financial flexibility they desire and also frees them from the maintenance responsibilities that with home ownership.

The article stated that in towns having a university that housing is often a premium and that demand is high making the conversion of single family homes into rentals is often an attractive investment.  Austin, San Marcus, and Georgetown are local examples of this claim.  On the flip side of the coin renting is often the only option for low income families.

Now that the recent recession is behind us renting has caused shortage of affordable housing nationwide and in the Austin area I must add.  This is good news if you own rent housing and not very good if you are a renter.  Putting pressure on the availability of affordable rent housing is the increasing number of short-term rentals that have been popping up nationwide.  These short-term rent houses obviously are not on the long-term rental market which adds to the shortage.

When you add to the equation that many would be first time homebuyers, folks in their mid-twenties – and mid-thirties are strapped with large student debt and find it tough to save for a down payment that moves upward with the increasing value of housing, it becomes apparent that there is a great need to provide them with a basic need:  a rent house.  And that is where you and I come into play.  As owners of residential real estate we are in a position to provide a well maintained rental that will bring us financial reward.

Rick Ebert/ Austin, Texas/ 8 July 16

Mike Gonzales Earns RMP Designation

Shown on the right is Mike Gonzales being awarded his RMP designation from Michael Ebert, RMP current president of the Austin Chapter of the National Association of Residential Property Managers.  We at Austin Landmark Property Services, Inc. are proud to have shared in Mike’s achievement as we have seen him work diligently through the years to obtain his RMP designation.  The course of study and work includes 200 unit hours of continuous property management experience over 2 years (Mike is way beyond that point), eighteen hours of course work study, provide service to the local NARPM chapter and or to national, and attend state, regional, or national NARPM conferences.  Mike has been very active in NARPM and will serve as next year’s Austin Chapter President.

Again, congratulations Mike Gonzales!

Rick Ebert | Austin, TX | 24 June 16


5,000 new Austin Jobs in May 2016

As reported in the Austin American Statesman, Austin added a whopping 5,000 new jobs in May.  The unemployment rate for this period was reported at 2.9%.  To back up this statistic I have seen “Help Wanted” signs every time I pull into a shopping center and park in front of a business.  Add it looks as if this trend is going to continue in the near future.  A recent study of local businesses stated showed that 25% of those surveyed plan to add more staff in the third quarter of 2016.  On the flip side, a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that Austin trails in wages, and that the middle class type of jobs is losing ground.  That means to me that although you can have a job in Austin that you may not be able to afford a house in Austin.  This is a thread that we at the Austin Board of Realtors® have been tracking for about 2 years.  There is no solution in sight.  This means that for us investors in Austin area residential real estate that we have a product that is in demand; and that demand will seem to keep growing for the foreseeable future.  Even with these affordable housing issues the Austin area is still below the national average when it comes to both owning and renting a house.  Many of these new immigrants to Texas are coming from California’s tech cities such as my former hometown of San Jose which has a house average hovering around $900,000 on average.  A 2 bedroom 1 bath home of 832 square feet recently sold for $650,000 which is well below the average price for a 3 bedroom 2 bath home in Austin.  The average price for a home selling through the Austin MLS system in April was $278,000.  And for this reason alone a lot folks in California are eager to move to Austin.

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 17 June 16

Congratulations to Pam Fite and to Shelly Longoria

Pam Fite became a licensed Texas REALTOR® in December, 2015. She recently completed the requirements to earn the Texas REALTOR® Leasing Specialist certification (TRLS) from the Texas Association of REALTORS®. The course of study consisted of four, three hour classes in leasing techniques, agency, and marketing.

Shelly Longoria recently completed a six month course of study in the Texas REALTORS® Leadership Program. This in depth program has the mission to educate and develop future leaders in our industry.

We are proud to count both Pam and Shelly as long-time valued employees and salute their commitment to bring the highest values that our industry has to offer to our company.

Rick Ebert/ Austin, Texas/ 10 June 16

Pam TRLSGraduation pic

Indeed to add 1,000 jobs to Austin + More

Indeed Hiring:

Yesterday local TV station KVUE aired a report stating that online job posting firm “Indeed” is moving into new their new 220,000 square foot office in north Austin.  Currently Indeed is located downtown and employs 500.  An interview with Indeed spokesperson Chris Hyams stated that they like Austin because of their tie in with the University of Texas as they hire many graduates.  How sweet is that!  He also stated that 50% of all job searches for Austin come from people living outside of Texas.

Seems that everyone wants to live here, and that is good news for us investors of local area residential real estate.  Except for the traffic – that’s the bad news!


As reported in the June edition of the Austin REALTOR® the 2015 unemployment rent in Travis County was only 3.15% – that is good news.  The article went on to state that the majority of jobs created in the last “10” years did not pay enough to meet a family’s basic needs – that is bad news.  The article however was silent about the jobs being created today and in recent years and what they pay.  I suspect that these most recently created jobs pay well or people wouldn’t be flocking to our area to live in a tent!  However our area is seeing escalating home prices and many homes within the city limits of Austin are getting out of the reach of many because the amount needed for a down payment keeps going up and is a hard number to catch.  So as property owners of residential rentals we are filling one of life’s basic needs, shelter.  As home prices continue to increase so should the rents, and so should our bottom line.

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 1 June 16

UPS Distribution Center Coming to Round Rock

This week various news sources state that United Parcel Service will build a 225,000 square foot distribution center on 50 acres of land where IH-35 and SH-45 meet. The facility should be up and running by the end of 2018. It is expected that this new facility will add 300 new jobs that will have a pay in the range of $50,000.

This is good news for Round Rock for the new hires that will staff the facility. It is also good news for us investors of area wide residential real estate. All of the contractors, and suppliers associated with bringing the building up to operations have to live somewhere as will the 300 new hires in 2018.

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 18 May 2016

Small Business is Big Business in Austin

According to a recent article in the Austin Business Journal Austin small businesses grew 9.7% between 2010 and 2013 beating Provo, Utah that posted 6.8% – that folks is a wide margin.  Austin small businesses accounted for over 35% of all jobs in 2012.  Entrepreneurship is welcomed in Austin because it is relatively easy to do business here.  There is a large educated labor pool, a can-do attitude, and folks making good money that want and will pay for goods and services. All these folks have to live in something and that is where you and I come into the picture by providing great housing rentals.  Don’t forget 150 people a day come into our area – check the traffic if you don’t believe me!

Rick Ebert/ Austin, Texas/ 3 May 16

Austin’s Apple News

An article in the Austin American Statement stated that Apple is keeping their promise by adding jobs, and thereby wealth, to our fair city.

In an agreement with the city Apple agreed to create 3,600 new jobs in Austin in exchange for tax incentives. Since 2012 Apple has kept good on its promise and has added 2,089 new jobs – that’s about 550 jobs yearly, a very nice pace indeed. These new jobs average $54K yearly which in our area is a nice wage and adds nicely to our booming local economy. In year ten the jobs will have an average wage around $74K and those figures will add even more to our economy. The article went on to quote Jon Hockenyos, a local economist, as saying that these are the kinds of jobs today that were the kind of jobs in the past such as manufacturing jobs that sustained families and built cities.
Since all workers need housing, how sweet it is to hold Austin area residential rentals to provide for the housing needs of our newly arriving employed citizens

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 2 May 2016

Austin Millennials Home Buying Woes

A recent article in CultureMap, a local publication, had an article about the difficult challenges that millennials face in buying a house in the Austin area.  A survey of apartment renting millennials found that most would like to buy a house but can’t afford to do so right now.  Most said that they need at least 3 years to prepare to save for their home.  The survey showed that most thought that they needed about $23K to make the purchase come true.  However the amount needed is a bit over $31K.  With the respondents stating that they are saving about $194 a month towards the down payment they would have to save for over 10 years even if housing prices stay the same.  Fat chance of that happening!

So what does that mean for us investors of Austin area residential real estate?  Why it means that we are holding a product that is in demand, pays us a nice return on our invested dollar, and should continue to increase in price while a portion of society tries to catch up.

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 27 April 16

Austin Area Continues Its Growth

As reported in the Austin American Statesman, the Austin metro area continues to grow and grow.  From March 2015 to March 1016 the area added a whopping 44,500 new jobs.  That’s enough citizens to qualify for small city status!  It also put the area over the 2 million mark.  This influx of people has put a strain on our roads and on housing.  We can’t do much about the traffic but talk housing and we can help.  Housing has lagged behind for several years now and it appears that this trend will continue in the future.  We help ease the housing pain by providing well positioned residential rentals to this influx of new Central Texans.  The average price of a house in Travis County reportedly went up 11% in 2015 and is pegged to increase 9% on top of that this year.  Wages can’t keep up with the housing increases as it takes more money to save for the moving target of a down payment.  By investing in Austin area rentals we not only provide a service to our newest transplants but increase our wealth through the monthly rental payments which covers the mortgage payment, taxes, insurance, etc.

Residential rentals are a great way to provide for retirement, college expenses, and to supplement or replace wages.

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 12 April 16

Austin Home Prices Keep Rising – Location, Location, Location!

According to an article in the Austin Business Journal the cost of home ownership in Austin is causing many would be homeowners to look elsewhere; specifically to the “burbs”.  The article quoted Redfin, a Seattle based real estate brokerage and technology firm who studies such trends.  The Redfin study stated that in 2011 typical sale was 13.2 miles from the city but in 2015 it was 14.8 miles.  The report also stated this increase of more than 12% was the second highest of the 31 cities in the study.  Also stated was the cost of living in the urban core was a whopping $318 per square foot while the cost in the burbs was only $128 a square foot.

What this means for us investors in Austin area real estate is that the rent home you purchased 5 years ago was probably closer in than those being purchased today.  And that same rental being more desirable because of its proximate location to the urban core is commanding a good rent.  It would follow that buying a rental now with rents increasing and interest rates still favorable is a good investment.

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 30 March 16

Cedar Park to Get 50 New Jobs

Cedar Park is just north of Austin and is a growing little city, and grow it will.  According to a recent article in the Austin American Statesman, Comprehensive Healthcare Management has struck an incentive deal with the city that will bring 50 new jobs to Cedar Park starting in June.  The annual payroll for these jobs is $2.4 million which exact ally chump change.  As Austin continues to grow and become more expensive to live in and to grow businesses, both people and businesses will start to take a serious look to neighboring cities all the while taking advantage of Austin’s amenities such as the music district, parks, and special events.  By the way, Austin just financed up a well televised PJA match play event at the Austin Country Club and this just on the heels of South by Southwest.  Next in the lineup are the X games coming in June.

So to find good deals in the Austin Area for residential rentals try looking at the nearby cities – I did and the move has turned our nicely.

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 28 March 16

Austin Area Population Hits the 2M Mark!

According to a recent article in the Austin American Statesman the Austin metro area has topped the 2 million mark and is the fastest growing area in the USA.   In fact our area has been the fastest growing spot with over 1 million in population for 5 straight years.  Reportedly this area is the most diversified area in the state.  Our employment base is balanced between governments (we are the state capitol of course) education, clean industries, and the service sector.  Oil does not impact our area very much like it does Houston, Midland, and the Gulf Coast refining areas.  According to one demographer the area’s growth is driven by the high quality of life here and by the healthy (robust) job market.

This is great news for us landlords who own residential rentals here.  The quality of life brings the jobs, the jobs bring the people (and did I mention their cars), and the people need housing; that’s us.  Area rents are strong and look to remain strong in the foreseeable future, and residential housing continues to appreciate.  To quote Ralph Kramden from the Honeymooners:  “How Sweet It Is!”

Rick Ebert/Austin, Texas/24 March 16

Millennials & Housing / How Sweet It Is!

A recent article in the Austin American Statesman about home buying habits of millennials puts an exclamation mark behind the statement that owning Austin area rent property is a good idea.  The article stated that a number of factors enter into the picture as to why millennials aren’t buying houses in similar form as their parents. These factors include the product.  It seems that builders are building most homes to meet the need of baby boomers, which in turn means that these homes are larger with more bells and whistles, and not a starter homes which are smaller and more austere.  So the baby boomer homes are more expensive which in turn requires a larger down payment.  One source stated that entry level homes are about 20% of the new home inventory compared to 30% in the past.  Millennials are delaying marrying which in turn means that there isn’t need to buy a home much less a large home.  Millennials instead are choosing or out of necessity, staying with their parents longer or are in roommate type households, which in turn means that there is even less to build entry level homes.  And lastly, millennials are leaving college loaded with debt which means that there is less desire on their part to add to the debt by having a mortgage.

So this means that for those of us that own Austin area residential rentals that the future looks both bright and profitable.  The demographic stated in the article won’t be changing much in the near future.  Our area continues to attract jobs and those that seek them, and millennials have to live in something, so why not one of our fantastic rentals?

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 11 March 16

2015: Austin added 44,500 New Jobs!

As reported in the Austin American Statesman those 44,500 jobs represents a 4, 7% increase.   What a year 2015 was for Austin.  It has been reported in several trade magazines and professional publications that 2016 will also be a good year for job growth in Austin, albeit not so robust.  What city can ever keep up the pace that Austin set last year?  Statewide unemployment was 4.5% vs. 4.6% in December, and that includes all of the jobs lost in the oil industry.  In comparison the Austin unemployment rate is 3.2% up from December’s 3%.  But then seasonal jobs abound in December and 3.2% is the envy of the nation.  The nationwide unemployment rate was 4.9% which is good news.

So if the nationwide unemployment rate is a good figure why is the stock market so bumpy?  For me, my Austin area rentals keep chugging along with strong rents and strong appreciation.  It’s never too late to add to your Austin area residential rentals or to start receiving the benefits of owning a rent property in our area.

Contact us today to see how our expertise can benefit you.

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 7 March 16

Congratulations to Mike Gonzales

Congratulations to Mike Gonzales, REALTOR, TRLS, TRPM, on earning his Texas REALTOR Property Manager designation from the Texas Association of REALTORS. To earn the designation Mike had to complete 4 classes in leasing and 6 classes in property management. Additionally, to earn the designation one must have a minimum of 2 years property management experience and 200 unit hours of active management. Mike has far exceeded those requirements. At ALPS, Inc. education is stressed as it leads to a high degree of professionalism which in turn leads to satisfied clients and customers.

MG 1

Austin is #1

In a recent article quoting a study by ValuePenguin Austin, Texas was ranked as the number one family place to live out of the 156 cities studied in the survey.  It also scored number 3 in the areas of education and the environment.  As for working parents, Austin ranked number 10 in large part because of our thriving economy and low divorce rate.

Although house prices are rising, they still can produce good cash flow especially when the tax advantages are taking into consideration along with the strong rents in our area.

Just more reasons to own residential income property in the Austin area.

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 9 Feb 16

Texas Style

This past Thursday Mike was the host for Texas Style, the annual winter meeting of the Texas members of the National Association of Residential Property Managers. This day was the result of a lot of hard work and effort that Mike spearheaded and the result was a fantastic industry program with 153 in attendance. Congratulations Mike!

Mike 2

Rick Ebert/ Austin, TX/ 8 Feb 16

Texas Doesn’t Need Oil to Stay Robust in 2016…

…We have California & New York!

According to a recent column in the Dallas Morning News Texas will fare pretty darn good in 2016 even with the oil slump.  How so you ask.  As the article went on to state, since 1990 Texas attracted more workers with or without a booming oil industry.  And an interesting side note, these “imported” workers are better educated (doesn’t say much for Texas schools) than most Texas workers, so they command a higher wage and elevate the workforce.  Dallas and Austin added jobs twice the national rate and both cities do not depend on the oil industry for their economic success.  Although home prices have been rising quickly in both cities, both cities have affordable homes when compared to California and New York.  In both Dallas and Austin the cost of a median priced home is less than 4 times the average salary.  In New York the ratio is almost 6 times and San Jose came in just under 10 times.

With so many people coming to Texas and the Austin area in particular, now is a great time to add to Austin area real estate investments.

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 1 Feb 16

The I-35 Firewall & The Texas Economy Good News!

According to a news article in the Dallas Morning News today, Texas will fare quite well in spite of falling oil prices.  Of course if you live in “Oil Patch, Texas” you will feel the pain, but Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio will be just fine as the “Big 3” continue to add jobs which will offset the declines in the states oil industry.  The Big 3 added 168,000 jobs last year the exact gain for the state – wow!  In some respects the Big 3 may even benefit from falling oil prices as more folks in these cities have more money to spend on restaurant and entertainment due to cheaper gas (go figure).  According to Keith Richards, the Dallas Fed chairman, Texas won’t experience the downfall that it did in the 80’s because the state is so diversified.  The Big 3 are underrepresented in the oil industry and shouldn’t be impacted by the fall of oil prices.

With real estate prices continuing to increase in the Austin area coupled with the roller coaster of the stock market, now is a good time to catch the real estate wagon before it’s too late by buying a real estate investment.  Did I mention that Austin area rents are strong and predicted to continue that trend for the next several years?

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 26 Jan 16

Apartment Rents Still Rising

Reis, a national real estate research firm stated in a recent study that nationally apartment rents average $1,180 up from $1,125 from a year ago.  In the fourth quarter,  2015 apartment rents rose 4.7% over the fourth quarter of 2014.  The National Association of REALTORS® reports that the number of first time home buyers is at a 3 decade low, attributing this to the increased difficulty for first time home buyers to save for the down payment.  As I’ve stated before, it is difficult for first time home buyers, who are usually renters, to pay higher rents and to save money for a down payment for a house.  Although rents can’t continue to increase forever they will probably remain strong.  Why?  If there fewer first time buyers developers and builders will not build as many houses and this will shrink up financing options for these projects.  With less housing inventory the price of these homes will increase making it even more difficult for first time home buyers to purchase a home.  This in turn will keep rents high as there are fewer buying opportunities thus increasing the difficulty even more  for renters to save for the down payment.

So until this scenario changes we investors in Austin area residential real estate are in a great position to reap the benefits of our investment by providing good housing for renters.

Happy New Year!

Rick Ebert / Austin Texas / 13 Jan 16

LiveOps, Inc.

LiveOps, Inc. a global leader in cloud contact center and customer service solutions, will relocate its headquarters from Redwood City California to Cedar Park Texas. LiveOps will move their 80 employees to Texas and will hire an additional 150 employees. The firm released a statement stating that the Cedar Park area has a prepared workforce and is a desirable location to reside in and to work. They cited the family values found in Cedar Park and the reduced cost of living as contributing factors for the move. Just more good reasons to own Austin area residential real estate!

Rick Ebert/Austin, Texas/17 Dec 15

Renter Crunch

According to a recent report by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies more than half the renters nationwide are having a tough time coming up with the rent.  It is generally accepted that one’s housing costs should be around 30% of one’s monthly income.  Today’s renters are spending closer to 50% of their total monthly income on rent.  At ALPS, Inc. we generally use the rule of 33% of one’s income as a qualifying guide, and in most instances our applicants meet that criterion, and if they don’t generally we won’t rent to them.  Nationwide the reason is that rents have and are continuing to outpace wages.  I don’t think that this is the general case in the Austin area, but it does seem that those coming into our area to rent housing are making “a very good wage.  Did you know that 53% of the Austin population rents?  Granted that includes about 42,000 UT students who are mainly renters but that still is a lot of renters.  Our situation is a bit different than most other parts of the country.  We also have a large part of our population who are young millennials and older folks, and both groups contribute significantly to our rental base.  I don’t see this trend changing much in the near future so us investors in Austin area residential real estate can continue to enjoy the benefits of that investment while providing housing needs.

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 10 Dec 15

Closing Out 2015 & Peeking in on 2016

Marcus & Millichap, a commercial real estate investment firm and think tank stated in their 4th quarter report that the Austin residential rental market will continue to be strong going into next year. The report stated that rising home prices will create a strong demand for apartments (and I add therefore a strong demand for single family rentals). They predict apartment vacancies will hover around 4.3% (a 5% vacancy rate = full). The average rental rate for apartments is projected to be $1,158. Keep in mind that single family dwelling rental rates are higher. So as 2015 starts to close the door and we begin to peek into 2016, I see the glitter of gold and the ka-ching of cash registers as rents continue to pour in the coffers.

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 13 Nov 15

Why Renters Can’t Make the Move

This was the headline of an article in November issue of REALTOR® Magazine and the article pretty much sums up what I have already shared.  Namely rents nationally and here locally are the highest they have ever been.  This of course is great news for us investors in residential real estate.  The article went on to state that normally when rents rise it puts a demand on home buying but that isn’t happening.  The rate for first time home buyers is at a 30 year low.  What is causing this is multifaceted.  First, raising rents means that renters find it harder to save for the down payment especially when rents are outpacing annual raises.  This means that a greater percentage of pay is going towards rent.  Second, home prices are rising meaning that a greater amount of down payment is required to buy the dream home.  Third, since fewer folks are buying homes builders aren’t building a ton of them on speculation which in turn keeps the prices of homes up and rising and ditto for rents.  Fourth, because of the lending fiasco of late, lenders have tightened up their qualifying criteria so it is more difficult and cumbersome to get a home loan.  Lastly, many folks have decided that renting is the way to go because not being tied down is their preferred lifestyle.

What this means for us investors of residential real estate is that rents and the value of your residential investment should continue to rise.  That’s like hitting two home runs in the ball game!

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 10 Nov 15

Profitability of Texas Homes

Tierra Grande, a quarterly publication of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M in its October edition had an article with the above title.  The article measured the profitability of Texas single family homes.  Guess what?  The Austin-Round Rock area had the highest average rent in the state.  Not surprisingly the area also had the highest average home prices in the state and even surpassed the national average.  Although the higher home prices in our area can eat away from the net rent yield which was calculated to be 2.43% it was still higher than the dividend yield for Home Depot and Lowes and just about a half a percent lower than McDonald’s.  What the article “didn’t” state is that when appreciation is added to the equation an Austin area real estate investment runs away from the pack.  The latest statistic from the Austin Board of REALTORS® stated that the average home price increased 5% from September 2014 to September 15.

It just makes good sense to own Austin area residential real estate.

Austin is the Place to Invest

In residential real estate that is. On October 6th I attended Realty Roundup and annual gathering of thousands of REALTORS® in the Austin area. Our keynote speaker was Dr. Jim Gaines a Texas economist from Texas A&M who spoke about the economy in general and the Austin area real estate market in particular.  I’m glad I attended (well I had to since I also had a workshop to conduct).  Here are Dr. Gain’s key points:

  • The Texas GDP is above that of the USA
  • Texas economic growth is 4.5% vs. 2.4% for the USA
  • The Austin population growth will slow as the high rates we’ve seen are unsustainable
  • He predicts the Austin job growth to be 2.5% in 2016
  • Austin has become and will remain an “Investor Destination”
  • Austin housing affordability (purchasing) will become will continue to tighten

Austin is #1 in Real Estate Development

According to a recent article in the Austin Business Journal, Austin is ranked number one for real estate development. It came in at number four for real estate investment. Studies were conducted by the Urban Land Institute and by PwC LLP. The article went on to state that the 2016 outlook for all property types is well above average but the areas of single family and retail stood out the most.

Just more reasons why it is a good idea to own residential real estate in the Austin area.

Robust Economy Sparking Austin Retail Interest

As reported in a recent ReCon publication, an on-line publication from the Texas Real Estate Center, Austin’s retail space is doing very well. The article stated that this is attributed to the overall robust economy and the net migration of folks to the area. With a 110 folks coming to Austin each day it is no wonder that retailers are having a good time of it – all these folks have to spend the wads of cash they are making. The article went on to state that retail building has stabilized and that an uptick in retail rents should be expected.

And so the happy “caching” of cash registers should be music to the ears of these retailers as it is for us investors in Austin Area real estate.

Austin Jobless Rate “Climbs” to 3.3%!

According to a recent article in the Austin American Statesman the Austin unemployment rate “rose” to 3.3% up from 3.2% in September. Now what city wouldn’t be envious of a 3.3% unemployment rate! I guess newspapers have sell print so that was the basic headline. Fact of the matter is that area employers actually have added 29,000 jobs since September 2014. That number would represent the population of a small city. To attract workers many employers are not only offering attractive wages but throwing in perks to snag the best qualified. How about working from home so new hires don’t have to clog our roads.

Rents Will Continue to Rise

According to a recent report by CNBC, renters nationwide (including the Austin area) will continue to see rising rents. They quoted a Harvard study which stated that even if income levels and rents increase by 2% a year, that renters will still see rent increases. The reason, more folks are deciding to rent vs. buy. The nation has more renters today than any other time in our history and construction for rent property (namely apartments) can’t keep up with demand. I see our whole culture as changing from young folks getting married and starting families and then going out and buying a home to raise those kiddos, into a culture where many young people prefer to remain single or co-habit a rental. Similarly, many retired persons are cashing out of the home they have owned for many years where they raised a family, and moving to more favorable climates that have amenities (like the Austin area).

The Austin Big Apple gets Bigger!

Recon, a publication of the Texas Real Estate Center reports this week that California based Apple, Inc. has developed 38 acres on West Parmer Lane into its second largest operation in the world. This site will be Apple’s basis of operation for the entire Western Hemisphere and will be a bit large – like over 1 million square feet. Considering that there are 43,560 sf in an acre, well you do the math – it’s Texas sized! Apple will create 3,600 new jobs to fill the space and retain the 3,100 already in place. There are lots of towns that don’t have that many people. I suppose that with this many folks in one place that Apple could qualify for its own zip code and post office!

Just more reasons why owning Austin area residential real estate is a sound idea.

Annual Property Inspections Can Save You $$

A recent article in REALTOR Magazine advised agents to inform their buyers to perform annual property inspections of their property as doing so can save them a bundle of cash by catching small issues before they become big expenses. As an absentee property owner obviously you can’t do that. For years we have been advising our investor – owners to have their property professionally surveyed for deficiencies that trained eyes can spot. The expense of the survey is minimal when you keep in mind that catching even one item can save you thousands of dollars in repairs. Since the cost of the survey is a business expense the price tag just dropped. In our central Texas area the condition of exterior paint is a frequent item of concern. Not only does flaking and peeling paint look bad which can lead to losing tenants or not finding replacement tenants quickly, it can cause the wood to deteriorate. In some instances we have had to replace wood panels because the wood was not properly cared for by owners. For instance, when paint is allowed to become flaky or to peel, it then causes the fasteners (usually nails) to become loose, and this in turn allows water to penetrate to the interior. This in turn can lead to mold and insect infestation as the wood paneling begins to separate. Roof coverings also take a beating in our area. We can have several days of summer well over 90 degrees which causes the asphalt shingles to expand; when cooler days come the shingles contract. Then come the rains and guess what, the roof leaks. Another item to consider is the plumbing. Water heaters only live for so long and then they start to leak. Small leaks can develop overnight that can cause extensive damage if left unrepaired.

Benjamin Franklin once said: “For lack of a nail, the shoe was lost. For lack of a shoe the horse was lost. For lack of a horse the rider was lost. And for lack of a rider the war was lost”.

The take away is to have your rent home surveyed yearly so that minor items don’t become large expenses. Did I mention that these annual property surveys also let the tenants know that you care about the property and that they need to know that you are observing their care of it?

California Company Moving their HQ to Cedar Park

As reported in today’s Austin American Statesman, LiveOps is moving their corporate headquarters from Redwood City, California, which is located about 20 miles south of San Francisco, to Cedar Park, Texas which is located about 5 miles north of Austin. All of their 80 employees have been offered jobs at the Cedar Park facility and they will be looking to bring on new staff for positions in sales, operations, human resources, marketing and engineering. The total number of employees for the Cedar Park HQ is projected to be 155.

Firms are leaving California or choosing to expand their operations to the Austin area because the economics of such a move, although initially costly, makes good economic sense. Our cost of living is less than California and the overall cost of doing business here vs. there is much better. Just more good reasons to benefit from owning Austin area residential rentals, these folks have to live somewhere, so why not rent from us?!

Austin is Number 1 for Startup Businesses!

According to Colliers International, a worldwide real estate services organization, Austin is leads the nation with 180 startup businesses. This tops Silicon Valley (my old stomping grounds). Austin’s technology job base has grown by almost 18% since 2011. And where are these high tech folks coming from? From the east and from the west – the far west, meaning California. Last week on a flight from Seattle to Austin I sat next toa man in his mid-20’s who informed me that he recently took a job as a software engineer with a Austin firm. I told him that I knew a lot about him since I own residential real estate property management company. He confirmed my profile of him when I said I know who he was: mid-20’s, working in a tech related field, renting, and enjoying live music. I also said that his type makes great renters and to leave is car in his home state!

This is why it is a great time to own Austin area residential real estate.

More Renters May be Stuck

Reads the headline this week from Real Estate News, a publication from REALTOR.COM. The article was quoting from a New York Times piece which sated that homeownership is at an all-time low of 63.7% down from 69% in 2004. No surprise here as 2004 was the heyday of “go-go” loans, meaning that if you passed the mirror test you qualified for a mortgage, regardless of your bad credit, and that’s another story. On the other side of the low homeownership coin is the face of rising rentals. Did you know that since 2004 rental households (not rental units) have climbed 770,000 annually? Who are these renters, why they are our friends the millennials who are new to the job market, putting off starting a family, and who seem to be self-absorbed in spending money (on themselves of course). But joining them are a bunch of folks who got suckered into taking on a mortgage that they couldn’t afford, folks who are now approaching 50 years who in past times would have been solidly in place in a home that the own, but now have to rent because of poor credit. We do rent to these folks but only after verifying that they have good jobs with adequate income and after obtaining an additional security deposit.

Apartment Occupancy at All Time High!

According to a recent CNBC piece the May nationwide apartment occupancy rate is 95.3%, or wise stated, it is FULL. With such high occupancy rates you could expect that rents would also climb and that is exactly what happened. The rent nationwide grew 5% in May, the fourth straight month that this has occurred. Needless to say, landlords are off to another great year. The Urban Institute’s Lisa Goodman states in the article that homeownership nationwide is at 63.7%, the lowest level in 25 years, and will continue to decline until 2030. What happens in 2031 she couldn’t say because I guess her crystal ball got fuzzy. She did predict that there will be 22 million new households formed in the next 20 years and that 13 million of them will be renters. Goodman stated that the Millennials today are a much more diverse lot than baby boomers both racially and ethnically and that means less homeownership. Why this is so was not stated and to me is a puzzling statement. Goodman further stated that higher rents will drive some Millennials to homeownership “if” they can scrounge up down payment. The down payment is becoming elusive for many folks because home prices keep rising, rents keep rising, and paychecks aren’t (can’t) keep pace with raising rents and home prices.

And this is where we investors in Austin area real estate come into play. We don’t rent out apartments, we rent something much better. We rent out nice looking, single family dwellings that are well maintained. This product appeals to this large rental pool that gets larger daily. And don’t forget, our area is attracting a vast segment of those Millennials because the Austin area offers the things they are looking for. Work with good pay, a clean environment, live music, and a “can do” attitude. If the traffic would go away this place would be close to paradise!

So to sum, owning Austin area real estate is a fantastic investment and looks to stay that way for a long time, or at least until 2030.

Austin Job Growth Surges!

As reported in the Austin American Statesman last week Austin sidestepped the fall in oil prices and the state has shaken off any dust from that fall. In May the Austin area added 6,800 jobs (or about the size of a small city). The May unemployment rate, according to the Texas Workforce Commission was 3.1% up from 3% from May of 2014 but the agency does not immediately adjust for seasonal factors such as students now entering the job market. The Austin area has a job rate growth so far this year of 4.4% up from 3.8% last year. This indicates that our area should really see super accelerated job growth. The Texas Workforce Commission stated that Central Texas has added 32,000 jobs so far this year…now that’s impressive!

So what does this mean for us investors in Austin area residential rentals? It means that we are holding the right cards to make money.

Huge Water Park Coming to Austin

As reported in this week’s Recon, The Texas Real Estate Center’s on line news, an investment group plans on building a huge entertainment venue called NL and Surf Park, near Austin International Airport. Heading the investment group is a member of the Coors Brewing Company. The venue will have no fewer than 11 surfing areas ranging in height from 1’ to 6’ in height. The lagoon will be about the size of 9 football fields (about right for Texas). There will be a Tiki Bar (serving Coors beer I’ll bet) where one can whet their whistle, and a concert area that can hold 2,000.

This will be the second large such water park in the area, the first being Hawaiian Falls in Pflugerville about 20 miles away. I guess the new folks that with so many folks moving to our area and traffic being so bad, it makes good sense to have one such event north of town and the other south of town.

Just more good reasons to own Austin area residential rentals.

Renters are Staying Renters

According to REALTOR magazine the majority of renters are staying renters in spite of rents rising, some to record levels. Freddie Mac (Federal Home Loan Corporation) who recently surveyed 2,000 adults about the views on renting found that raising rents does not deter renters from continuing to rent vs. buying a home. This survey contradicts what some experts expect renters to be doing: buying a home. The folks at Freddie state that they think that rising rents reflect demand vs. home purchasing will be increasing (well duh). According to the US Census Bureau 33% of all households rent. In Austin the percentage is a whopping 51%. The survey stated that 70% would like to buy a home but that they can’t afford to do so at this point in their lives. Maybe that is because they spend so much money on fashionable clothes, dining out, and fast cars. At this point I must quote one of my favorite philosophers W.C. Fields who said that he spends half his money on drink, women, and gambling, and the rest of it he squanders! Back to the serious side, many renters may find themselves moving further away from purchasing a home.

And this is where you and I, investors in Austin area residential real estate come into play. We can offer nice properties to rent to high wage earners who would normally be homeowners a great place to live.

Let the good times roll!

The Brazilians are Coming!

As per the Austin American Statesman in a recent article V2Com a Brazilian technology company is opening its first USA office in Austin and will hire 100 employees. The firm develops software and hardware for smart grids to help utility customers reduce losses and manage resources. When Leonardo Lima, the firm’s chief technology officer was asked why Austin he responded Austin is near several universities and they hope to recruit from those schools. Reasons also cited by Lima were because Texas has no income tax and has a favorable business climate.

Austin Apartment Market is Strong

According to a recent article in the Austin American Statesman the Austin apartment market is strong and robust with “…apartments being snapped up by a tide of demand.” And just who are snapping up these new rentals? Why the 110 people moving to Austin every day that’s who! According to a recent study Austin has the fifth strongest demand for apartments in the nation. The 2014 apartment occupancy rate is reported at 95% but alas that is some bad news because the reported 2013 occupancy rate was 95.1%; I didn’t feel that. Apartment rents remain high, climbing 3.3% for the previous 12 months. This figure is down from the 4.5% for the same period a year ago. The January job growth for Austin is reported at 3% which is well above the national average.

I’ve been taking Friday classes at UT for 2 years and picked up The Daily Texas (the official UT rag) and read this Friday’s article “As Austin grows, off-campus rents rise”. That article quoted, an on-line apartment locating service, as ranking Austin having the 21st most expensive rents in the nation.

What this means for us investors in Austin area residential rentals is that our residential rental market is good – very good. With the stock market still swinging widely almost on a daily basis it is comforting to have the steady rent coming in coupled with a strong appreciation rate.

Mike Gonzales and Shelly Longoria Earn Leasing Certifications

Austin Landmark Property Services, Inc. congratulates Mike Gonzales and Shelly Longoria on their successful completion of the Texas Association of REALTORS curriculum for the Texas REALTOR Leasing Specialist certification. To obtain the certification they had to successfully complete four courses: The Essentials of Residential Leasing, The Texas Association of REALTORS Residential Lease Agreement, Agency Issues Impacting Property Managers and Leasing Agents, and Marketing and Leasing of Residential Properties. Mike and Shelly, by investing their time to obtain the certification have shown their dedication to providing the best property management services available to our clients.

Austin, Salt Lake City Lead U.S. Metros in Job Creation

As reported in the “Daily Real Estate News” the Gallup Index cites both Austin and Salt Lake City as leading the country in 2014 in leading all cites in job creation. No one can argue that Salt Lake is a fine city with beautiful mountains and near great ski areas, and ski areas are a plus and a minus because where there are ski areas there is snow. Enough said about that so Austin is number one!

The reasons cited by Gallup is the technology sector bringing in lots of talented folks to take jobs that have been created because of the increase in technology firms in both cities. Also cited in the report is that salaries are more competitive in these cities and the cost of living is lower than average than other tech-hubs. The report also stated that these jobs in turn create additional jobs such as construction to meet housing demand. In turn all of these jobs create service related jobs to cater to the needs of all. And this is where we investors in residential rentals come into play. All of these folks, many of which are young marrieds, need a nice place to live and to start a family. It is a great time to be an Austin area owner of residential real estate.

Austin Planning & the Rise of a Livable City

This headline is the title of an article found in March-April “Austin REALTOR® a professional publication of the Austin Board of REALTORS®. The article tries to explain what is making Austin such a robust city by first exploring what has happened. It explains that Austin is growth is not because it has of any strategic geography advantage and not because of any specific industry. Instead Austin has grown because of its “vibe”. Yes, good vibrations are what got Austin “started” to get it where it is today. People came to Austin because of its laid back attitude, relatively good climate (exclude summer to get to perfect) and live music. And who likes live music the most, young people. And as the word spread, more and more young people came, many to UT and about the same number just to hang out. But over the years the young people with degrees started to outweigh the Margaretville types, and before you knew Austin is being billed as “Silicon Hills”. With the young high tech folks in place, and with turnover at Dell, AT&T, and IBM, a lot of young smart energy was taking root to start new business ventures. This talent pool coupled with affordable housing, and a tax friendly business environment started to drive growth to Austin meaning that more young talent was coming to town and that in turn meant more businesses and services were needed to meet demand. Before you knew it Google Fiber was in place, and big name players taking note of that started to move here even faster creating even more jobs. The article went on to state that the Austin workforce is younger and more talented than the national average. It quoted a statistic that the 2013 Austin population had 506,645 folks with a bachelor’s degree (the population in 2013 was 885,400).

So what does that mean for us real estate investors of local residential housing? It means that Austin is a robust area with a pool of young talented rental prospects. What the article didn’t state is that a lot, if not most, of this young highly paid talent are millennials and that many, if not most of them, will rent a nice place vs. buying one because they don’t want to be tied down to any one place and don’t want the responsibility of maintaining a property. So the population has in a sense come full circle. The folks moving here still are laid back Margaretville types in their heads but this new crop have good paying jobs and has money to spend on nice rent housing.

Battery Company Moving their HQ to Austin

As reported in today’s Austin American Statesman ViZn Energy System, a company that makes energy storage batteries for commercial and utility users will be moving their headquarters to Austin. In fact they are already started to move here and will hire dozens of people to fill out their job roster openings. The paper didn’t state what these new hires will do or how much they will get paid (if that isn’t important – right- wrong!). The users of their batteries will include a lot of developing countries that have a need to store the energy produced by wind turbines and solar panels. Folks living in very remote areas will find their batteries very welcome and useful. One of the main reasons for moving to Austin is that Austin is becoming a technology hub (birds of a feather flock together).

Six Reasons Why Everyone Is Moving to Austin, Texas

My son Michael ran across this on-line article and passed it to me. I have summarized the content of the piece and found no surprises, only a confirmation of what has happened and what is happening. Hope y’all find it interesting.

1) Austin has a booming economy: 150 people are moving here each day. This in itself creates jobs in the service and retail industries. For the record, Forbes in 2013 named Austin as the #1 city for jobs and in 2014 it named Austin as the #1 city for future job growth (I think we hit that mark!). The 2014 unemployment rate was about 3.8%.

2) One of the best tech start up cities: This area is known as “Silicon Hills” vs. San Jose, California’s “Silicon Valley”. As many of you may already know, a lot of California tech firms have either relocated here or expanded their operations here.

3) High quality of life: Austin has miles of biking paths, hiking trails, jogging paths and a great swimming hole called Barton Springs where the water averages 68 F which is awfully nice during our 90 F summers. It has been named a Green City and an Energy Efficient City by those folks passing out the titles for such things!

4) A great place for young and old: Austin was #2 by as the best city to raise a family. I can testify to that as this was one of the main reasons I decided to move here way back in 1981, when I was young(er). Now that I’m old(er) I still consider Austin a great place to call home. Forbes ranked Austin as a great place to retire. Austin has something for everyone!

5) Fun things to do: US News ranked Austin as the #6 place in the USA for fun things to do. To do what you ask? How about Austin City Limits, South by Southwest, F-1 racing, Austin Film Festival, the X Games, and that is the short list!

6) Low cost of living relative to income: In 2014 the median value of house in Austin was $245K vs. almost $290K in the USA. Comparing Austin home values to Silicon Hills home values Silicon Hills gets whooped even more! And don’t forget Texas does not have a state income tax.

So if you can’t live here at least you can invest your money here by buying Austin area residential real estate.

2015 Austin Economic Forecast

Guess what its growth! KVUE, a local TV station recently reported that Angelos Angelou, a local economic forecaster and a master of reading the local economic tea leaves, has predicted that this year will continue to see the growth that we saw in 2014. And what did we see in 2014?

Well 66,000 folks moved here. Why do they come you ask; because 39,000 jobs were created here. That equates to about 3,950 jobs a month or about 10 jobs a day. Wow! Austin in now the 16th largest city in the USA. We are larger that Washington DC or Seattle (so where is our professional football, basketball, and baseball teams?). Unfortunately our traffic is the 4th worst in the USA (no wonder will all the folks moving here). The city and state are making improve- ments for our traffic woes so I will give them credit for that.

It is a great time to own Austin area residential investment property – so enjoy it!

Austin Rental Rates Predicted to Climb

As recently reported in the Austin Business Journal, the rental rates for apartments are predicted to climb 4.5% in 2015. Not much new news there but the headline is a confirmation of what has been reported in other publications. Berkadia, a firm that specializes in the multifamily arena states that not only will rents continue to rise this year but that …that expected new apartment inventory of 10,400 units will be quickly absorbed. Last year the apartment market saw 9,150 new rental units absorbed from the 9,340 new units that came on line. They report that the vacancy rate of 4.5% is lowest that Austin has seen since 2006.

What a great time to be investing in Austin area residential real estate!

Forbes Picks Austin as #1 to Buy Investment Real Estate

This month Forbes chose Austin Texas as the number one place in the nation to purchase real estate as an investment. What a way to start off the New Year! It shouldn’t surprise any of us that already own Austin area residential rentals because we have been harvesting the rewards of our area for several years. The Forbes article is singing… my mantra, “now is a good time to buy and hold for a long time. The article went on to state that real estate purchased in one of their favorite places (Austin is numero uno) that it should be a safe bet. I have to interject and state that nothing is a “safe bet”, but investing in Austin area residential real estate is a darn good one. Forbes quoted a study done by Local Market Monitor. The study screened the 105 largest MSA’s with populations having a minimum of 550,000. It stated in part that the recession is getting “…long in the tooth…and fewer markets are undervalued”. I would agree with that; so what. What is important is the fact that you can make money by owning Austin area real estate. The article went on to state the reasons for being bulling on residential rentals and Austin in particular, is the promise of a good supply of renters. The Austin area population grew 8.9% between 2010 and 2013. Oh yes, and the traffic proves it!

The British are Coming!

To Austin that is. As recently reported in the Austin American Statesman, ARM, a British semiconductor firm has pitched to the Travis County Commissioners Court a proposal for a $12M facility in southwest Austin that will create 150 new jobs over the next 5 years. Of course ARM is looking for tax advantages to do the deal. The average salary for these new positions is a nice $88K a year. ARM already employs 350 here and want to expand their operations because Austin is becoming a hub for intellectual property.

Amazon Coming to Austin

As reported in today’s Austin American Statesman, Amazon is coming to Austin and will lease a building in the Domain, an upscale retail office center at Loop 1 and Burnet Road. They will be bringing 200 new jobs with them (and 400 additional cars I imagine). No information was given on an average salary range for the new jobs but considering the upscale location I bet they pay pretty darn well.

All these folks have to live somewhere and those of us who are residential real estate investors are in a great position to help them out. It’s a great time to own Austin area rent houses.

20% = 12.5 Years?

As reported in REALTOR® Magazine, at today’s rate of saving, it takes an average 12.5 years to save for the typical down payment of 20% on a home purchase. This information fits nicely with a study done by the National Association of REALTORS® stating that first time home buyers are at the lowest level in decades. I think that anyone would find it a daunting task to try to save $50K for a down payment. I suppose this means good news for us real estate investors who can offer quality properties for rent to persons who are qualified to make mortgage payments but unable to scoop together the cash for the down payment.

My advice to renters would be to buy what you can afford now with cash in hand for the down payment, let appreciation work for you, then buy a larger home in a few years. It works all the time.

Austin is Flushed with Pride!

According to Redfin, a Seattle based brokerage and research firm, Austin ranks number 9 in the country with the city having the most toilets per person. It seems as if there are folks out there that count just about everything, and last count, Austin had 91 potties for every one of their citizens. This equates to 28,922,250 of flushed water every day going right into the sewer. I did read a headline this week stating that alcohol sales were up 13% – maybe the two are tied together? Rounding out the top and bottom were Boulder with the number 1 spot and Seattle as number 10.

Prediction: Austin Will Keep on Booming!

As reported by Marcus and Millichap, a nationwide commercial investment firm, the Austin economy should continue to fare well for the rest of the year. Of course we are now close to the end of the year so this year’ predictions should be easier to make. Nevertheless they predict that Austin will add 33,500 new jobs. This and the strong population growth these folks want places to shop and restaurants to go to with their family and friends. So it makes good sense to own Austin Area real estate, after all these folks have to live somewhere!

150 More Jobs Coming to Austin!

As reported in today’s Austin American Statesman, Acxiom, an Arkansas based firm providing marketing, and information and management services, will filling 150 positions in Austin by November. The jobs will include 150 positions in areas including network engineering, security engineering, systems engineering, network architecture, and project management. A pay range wasn’t cited in the article but I assume that they will be in the $80K range. As per Janet Cinfio, a VP for the firm, the reason for the Austin office is to tap into the technology pool that is growing daily here. They would seem to know their stuff since they have 4,500 employees worldwide. I hope they give each new hire bus tickets to help ease our terrible traffic problems – 4th highest in the nation.

Another firm relocates its HQ to Austin

Sizmek Inc, according to the Austin American Statesman, is relocating their headquarters from Dallas to Austin. The paper never stated what this company does (interesting) but did state that they are relocating here because Austin is a vibrant tech community. They have 50 employees here already and will be adding another 25 with room for another 25 employees. Sales, service, accounting, and technology will be the focus of the new and existing jobs here. Just one more reason to own Austin area residential real estate – all these folks need to live in something!

1,000 More Jobs Coming to Austin!

Interactions Corp stated in article appearing in today’s Austin American Statesman that they plan on hiring 1,000 data entry types because business is so good. The jobs will pay between $12 hour to $18 an hour. The reason stated to bring the jobs to Austin is the area’s dynamic work force and the number of bilingual folks living here.

Expert States that the Austin Economy Will Keep On Rolling

The Austin American Statesman reports that Eldon Rude, a local economist, who generally has been right on track with his predictions, informed the Real Estate Council of Austin on Wednesday that Austin economy looks solid for years to come. He pointed out that Austin has been growing by 20,000 persons since 2010 and the last two years t…he numbers were 30,000. He stated, and I agree, all these people have to live somewhere. Rude also stated that the Austin economy should grow 3% annually to 2010. He also stated that this ind of growth rate will end but it will come from an event outside of Austin (Washington I assume). For now it is comfort-ing to ave invested in Austin area residential real estate – let the good times keep on rolling!

Personify to Expand Austin Operations

As reoirted un the Austin American Statesman this week, this Virgina based software company found it difficult to grow their business in the D.C. area so instead they plan to expand their employee base here from 29 to 100 by the end of 2015. This firm provides association software to likes of the Girl Scouts of America and the American Bar Association. The company cited the main reasons for choosing Austin was the cost of living and the robust job market with lots of talent.

Does it get any better than this? Just another great reason to own Austin area residential rentals?

Happy Birthday America!

107 Acres of City Owned Land to Create 1,250 Jobs

As reported in the Austin Business Journal yesterday, the city plans on breaking ground this year on 107 acres west of the airport to put in the infrastrcure to support light manufacturing. The site should be ready to go by 2015 and an estimated 1,250 jobs should be generated. There are lots of towns that don’t even have that figure for a population!

These folks will have to live somewhere, and that is just another reason that makes the Austin area a great place to own residential rent properties.

SoftServe Moves It’s HQ to Austin!

Folks this isn’t the soft serve that is frozen custard (darn!), instead it is (guess what) a software firm that specializes in development, testing and consulting for clients such as HomeAway, RentMeNot, and BazarrVoice, and Dell Their HQ is in Florida but they like Austin better. They plan on having 100 employees here by the end of the year. Great – just leave your cars in Florida because our traffice is soo bad!

Just another great reason for owning Austin area Residential Investment property.

Old News but still Great News!

Why the Austin American Statesman would print an article that uses old statistics is beyond me. Yet when I look at the statistics (mostly from 2012 and 2013) I can say yep, we did that, and it was very good. The article cites the Kaufmann Foundation (whatever that is) stating that Austin is business-friendly city and a great place to live (ya think that is why so many folks are moving here – duh). It goes on to state that in 2012 that the job growth rate was 3% (yep or better) and in 2012 the local economy expanded 6.3% (yep or more). The article stated further another good reason to live in the Austin area is that cost of living here was 3% lower than the national average, and the median price of a home is $199K. Well guess what folks, the median price of a home selling in today’s market is around $230K.

Just more reasons to own Austin Area rental properties. Income and appreciation equals profit!

More Businesses are Moving and Expanding to the Austin Area

Announced this week in the Austin American Statesman, Metacloud, a California based firm cloud tech firm is opening an Austin office to tap into the local talent pool. The Pasadene based firm will hire 30 employees including engineers, support, and sales. Pet Supplies Plus, a Michigan based retailer of pet supplies, plans on opening 15 stores in central Texas. The stores will employ up to 20 persons at each location. And lastly coming to us via Las Vegas is a sub shop is Capriotti’s. Lets face it, all these folks coming to the Austin area gotta eat somewhere! They plan on opening 20 shops in the Central Texas area. One of the reasons for the Austin area expansion is the vibrancy of the city.

Okay, so how many rent houses do you want? Doesn’t it make good sense to try to house all of these folks and cash in on the traffic?

Home on the Range (gun range) in Pflugerville

TrackingPoint has raised $64M to expand their gun manufacturing beyond military and hunting uses. The firm makes tracking devices that will allow uses to make more accurate shots from hundreds away from their target. They already have a $3M ballistics lab and a 500 yard lab (range). They are working on a device that will track objects going up to 120 mph and 1,200 yards away. If you are interested in buying one of these devices (Christmas is only 6 months away) you can do so directly and the cost is a mere $10K. The company has 80 employes and 2013 sales were $10M and expected to double in 2014.

Just another associated reason that ownin Austin read residential real estate makes good sense. Business are expanding here, general sales of just about everything is up. and folks need a place to live.

Austin’s Apple is Baking!

As reported in today’s Austin American Statesman, Apple, Inc. Austin division has created 743 new jobs in 2013. Apple continues to invest in Austin by adding 1 million more square feet of space over seven buildings. Those seven buildings are expected to employ an additional 3,600 folks (is this the size of a small city?). It was stated that Austin is a place where technology thrives and evolves and that market leaders gavitate to this kind of environment. These jobs are clean, high paying jobs and would be the envy of any city to have them come their way or in the case of San Jose, just stay there. But here they come!

Just another good reason to buy Austin Area residential real estate.

Box Inc. Expands to Austin……..

This is a file sharing firm located in Los Altos, CA. just up the street from my home town of San Jose. Like many California firms they are finding it cheaper to expand 1,800 miles +/- away vs. expanding in the Bay Area. The good news is that this is a clean business and will have 200 more jobs added to our local job market. Just leave the cars in the Bay Area – thank you!

Austin Should You Rent or Buy? That is the Question – Just What the Heck is the Answer?

The Austin American Statesman tried to answer this question in Saturday’s paper, and frankly failed to come across with a concrete answer either pro or con. Final answer, it is an individual situation with no single right answer. The article was full of facts but that didn’t bring any decision making answers. The facts are: 1) from 2003 to 2013 home prices increased 43% that’s good if you own a home or like many of us own residential rentals 2) rents increased 50% from 2004 to 2014 and that is great if you are like me and own residential rentals 3) from 2004 to 2014 income increased 9% (ouch!) 4) this is no four!

As stated in a previous post, Duetsche Bank has a report that Austini renters spend 5% less for housing than homeowners. That’s nice, then Trulia reports that buying is cheaper than renting in the nations 100 largest cities. The difference, Duetsche uses 5% down and Trulia uses 20% down.

So pick whichever answer you like! It has been own personal experience that buying a home is a great investment for both a domicle and for an investment. And with rents so high, and continue to risie in the forseable future, coupled with appreciation, well what are you waiting for – buy something!

Please contact our Austin property management experts at ALPS if you’d like to learn more!

Great Growth Keeps on Growing!

Unbelivable growth in our area as stated in the Austin American Statesman this week. The Census Bureau reports that in the last 3.5 years that Buda has grown 39%, Manor 26 %, Leander 20.6%, and Cedar Park 18.4% and those were the “small cities” ! At that rate they won’t be small for long. Meanwhile Austin grew 9.2%, Round Rock 9.8% and Pflugerville 11.8%.

Last week I read that the Austin area auto dealers were having a banner year with car sales going out of sight. That fits because so many folks are moving here. They often will leave their old clunker behind (usually in California – thank you) and then buy a care here. Of course you can’t drive to your new job here in an old car can you?!

So all these folks need a place to live and that means us investors in residential real estate have a tremendous opportunity to help them out by providing rent housing. Let the good times roll!

If you have any questions about real estate investing or Austin property management. Please feel free to reach out to us at Austin Landmark Property Services. We’d be happy to chat!

Austin’s First Trans-Atlantic Flight Invigorates Cargo

This recent headline graber from the Austin American Statesman caught my attention and was a good read. Daily the flight carries about 200 passengers, that is cool, but it also carries 25,000 + pounds of freight oversears. Seems as if Europe likes Mexican peppers! Of course they ship other things too, like computers and oil field equipment. On on the way back we get Norweigen Salmon and fruits. Not a bad trade in my opinion!

Austin New Car Sales Hit a Record – Why is this Important?

This fact is an indicator of the areas booming economy. New car sales were up 9.7% according to an article in the Austin American Statesman last week. The paper stated that the reason for the tremendous increase is due in large part because of the booming economy (very low unemployment rate) and tremendous population growth. All the more reason why it makes good sense to own Austin area residential real estate. This is becoming a no brainer!

Rent a House or Buy a House – That is the Question!

Deutsche Bank did a recent study to get the answer to this question and the answer is “it depends”. They also looked at major cities to determine if it is better to rent or buy and Austin came up in the area where it is emerging that renting is better than buying. As it turns out in Austin a renter will spend 5% less than a homeowner living in the same kind of housing. The three main reasons for renting vs. buying were: 1) Renters pay a smaller share for property taxes, insurance, and maintenance than a homeowner 2) Renters can use the savings noted above for investments (I must add that real estate “is” and investment) 3) Renters have a greater flexibility to move in event of job opportunities (of course I must add that is why there is property management in Austin!). So as stated at the top: the answer depends!

Austin Apartment Rents Soar!

According to a recent article in the Austin American Statesman the rents for Austin apartments increased 50% from 2004 to 2013. For those of us who are residential landlords holding signle family dwellings this also good news because what happens with apartments also happens to a large degree with rent houses. The article went on to state that supply is not and will not keep up with demand citing the environmental rules, slow building approval process, and the many homeonwer associations that fear their neighborhoods are being overrun by apartments. The occupancy rate is reported at 97% which means that rental housing is very tight. With this kind of raw data it makes sense to own and hold a rent house or two in the Austin area. To learn how to do this and to see a “real example” of a successful area investor go to our webpage and read “Real Wealth from Real Estate”. You will be glad you did!

Win A Mercedes GLK 350!

The Austin Board of Realtors ABOR Foundation-a 501(c)(3) organization is conducting its annual Mercedes Raffle in order to raise money for the foundation. Let me know if you are interested in buying a ticket for $100. Get three tickets for the price of two, or get 15 tickets for the price of 10! If you would like to know more about the foundation please contact me.

The winner will receive a Mercedes GLK 350 (suv) and a trip to Germany to test drive it before being shipped to the US.

Thanks- Mike Ebert

Austin has Double Digit Job Growth Rate!

As recently reported in the Austin American Statesman, Austin has had a job growth rate over the last 5 years averaging almost 11%. To say the least our growth rate is the envy of the nation! Since all these new citizens need a place to live we who own residential rentals are in a good spot indeed!

More Jobs Coming Soon to Austin!

As reported in the Austin American Statesman last week, 150 more jobs are coming here this year. Gatehouse Media announced that they are closing their Framingham, Mass. and Rockford, Ill. officies are relocating a dozen of those employees here, and will be looking to fill the other positions with local talent and with folks that want to reloate to Austin. Just another great reason to own Austin area residential rentals–they all need a place to live!

Austin Growth Surges!

Headline in the Austin American Statesman in the March 27, 2014 paper. The population grew 10% from 2010 and added over 47,000 new residents from July, 2012 to July 2013. If only these folks would leave their cars from wherever they came from that would be OK with me! Austin ranks #1 in population growth and that is great, and not so great as it also ranks #4 in having the worst traffic! All in all, it is a great time to invest in Austin area real estate because all of these transplants need a place to live.

Three More Companies Making Austin Home

Idean, a Finnish company that helps companies make interface designs for their products is setting up shop in downtown Austin. Initiall they will hire 20 people. The reason for Austin is the talent pool and culture. Signpost is saying hello to Austin by hiring 75 people for their software development. They also have a location in NYC but of course Austin is “the place” to expand operations because of the favorable weather and tax climate. Both the snow and taxes are piled up “very high”. And Atlassian, an Australian software maker will be hiring 300 workers for it’s operations. And folks, the firms keep coming, the new hirings keep coming, and Austin continues to thrive. And that is why it is a great time to own Austin area real estate!

Not Everyone is Suited to be a Homeowner

A recent article in the Washington Post pointed out that not everyone should buy a house and that renting is viable option for a lot of folks. I should point out that an estimated 53% of all Austin households are renters. The main reason stated in the article is the plain fact that as a renter you can move about the country with comparable ease. Quite a few of our clients are what I call “Accidental Landlords”, folks who had to move, usually for job transfers, who now find that they can’t sell, so they became an accidental landlord. That is another good story as doing so can create wealth. Another reason cited in the article for renting vs. buying is of course the capitol needed to purchase a home may not be readily available. doing so can create wealth. And then come the repairs, and as any landlord will attest to, every single building will need them. And to offset repairs, that requires even more cash. At a minimum landlords should save 5% of the gross rent as a repair hedge, and 10% is even better. And so it goes,

Which is the best way for you to go, rent or buy? It really depends on our financial strength and your goals. If you have questions or would like to further discuss this topic, please fee free to reach out to us at Austin Landmark Property services. We are Austin property management experts.

A Cold January Brought in a Cooling of Austin’s Employment …Sort Of…

According to today’s Austin American Statesman, Austin saw it’s unemployment rate rise to 4.9% up from 4.7% from last month. However January 2013 had an unemployment rate of 5.9%. I’d say that the rest of nation would be envious of any of those rates!

Austin Takes Off!

British Airways now has a flight from Austin to London on the Dreamliner. It is the very first flight from Austin to Europe and it is non-stop to boot. This should be great for all of those folks from the old country who like F-! racing. And our airport is growing too – heck it was too small when they completed it.

Texas Is a Business Friendly State – I Know That!

As reported in this month’s issue of Newsmax, Texas is the number one business friendly state in the USA. Maybe that is why so many people are leaving other states and moving here, and moving specifically to the Austin area. Our five county area receives about 125 people “a day” and has done so for the last two years. The lease friendly state cited in the article was California followed by New York (anybody surprized?). An example cited in the article was that it takes 2 years longer and $200,000 more to open a Hardee’s restaurant in California than it does in Texas…incredible! So Hardee’s plans to open 300 of their restaurants in Texas…surprize! And that is why it is great to own Austin area real estate…people are coming here in droves and they need a place to live.

Rick Ebert & Mike Ebert Attend the NARPM Broker / Owner Retreat

The 3-day retreat was held in Las Vegas and attended by over 700 residential property managers from across the USA who came together to learn from each other as to how to increase customer service and how to learn new busienss techniques, and of course to have some R n R! I was honored to be the moderator for a panel discussion on Legacy Planning and proud that Mike was a member of the esteemed panel. Even after being in the business for over 25 years I came back with lots of new ideas and with most of my money!

Forbe’s Chooses Austin as No. 1

Choosing Austin as the number one city in the nation is quite an honor. Amoung other criteria the magazine cited Austin’s 5.88 increase in economic growth as one of the main reasons for their choice. Of course we already knew that the area was adding a ton of jobs here. Two other major reasons for their choice was the University of Texas that provides a great talent pool, and the tech sector. Forbees forgot to mention the hot and humid days of August (thank goodness for air conditioning) or the traffic that all the new transplants are in large part creating. Those issues aside, Austin is a great place to live and work, and a great place to own residential rent property!

Texas Tops California in Tech Exports!

As recently reported in the Austin American Statesman, Texas has topped California in exporting computers, communications equipment, and similar technology. The Austin area ranked 35th nationally in this category, which frankly seems low, considering all the high tech jobs we have in this area, but then again this information is limited to “exports”. I guess the study doesn’t recognize that we in Texas think that anything that leaves the state is “exported”!

ALPS Salutes Staff Members

Austin Landmark Property Servcies, Inc. salutes staff members Mike Gonzales, Shelly Longloria, Rebecca Panacci, and Mark Witmer, along with Rick and Ebert, for attending the regional conference of the National Associaition of Residential Property Managers. They attended the 2 day event that had speakers and classes and work shops concerning the residential property management industry. Mike Gonzales, Shelly Longloria, Rebecca Panacci and Rick Ebert also attended in the same week the Texas Associoation of REALTORS winter meeting. They attended the property management committee meeting and the property management forum where important informaiton was delivered by the Texas Associaiton of REALTORS and by the Texas Real Estate Commission concerning property management issues.

It was a lot of sitting and listening, but well worth it!

More Good Job News on Austin’s Horizon?

Websense, a San Diego firm that developes software to protect businesses from cyberattacks, is considering from their HQ to Austin. They would create 470 jobs with an average pay of $82K a year – not bad wages. Also Dropbox, which is already in Austin, is thinking of expanding their Austin workforce by 170 new jobs that would have an average pay of $52K a year.

Obviously these folks think, as I do, that the Austin area is the right place to be right now. And that is why I own rental property in our area, and why you should to. It has been more steady than the stock market, and can even be included in your IRA!

Austin New Car Sales Are Up 13%!

That’s nice but what does that have to do real estate you ask? Well let me tell ya: It’s an indicator that our local economy is robust and healthy, and when you have a healthy and robust economy you have money in the local marketplace. And that equates to folks wanting to live in a nice home to park their new car. These week the stock market has taken a real licking, down 7% for the year. Meanwhile rents are up. It is a great time to own Austin area real estate!

It Is Official: Athenahealth Is Expanding and Austin Wins!

The health care technololy firm also considered sites in California, Georgia and Massachusetts but Austin because of it’s talent pool and other business reasons (like good climate!). The firm will add 607 new jobs with an average pay of $120K yearly. What city woudn’t want that!

Y’all come on down – just leave your cars at home, our roads are clogged already.

Just another reason why owning Austin Area real estate is a smart move – have you watched the stock market this week: what a nose dive.

United States Renting Trends, an online news information source, recently ran an article about the renting trends that are occurring in our fair land. The information in the article wasn’t so much revealing but was a confirmation of other information and reflects the trend that I have seen in the Austin area.

First the article states that 2015 should expect to see continuing demand for single family rental housing in the USA. This prediction is based on the economic factors that incomes are not rising in proportion to the rising prices of single family dwellings. This event of course takes home ownership out of the hands of many folks. Saving for the down payment of a house can be an elusive event. The report cited an interesting statistic: since 2006 renting has soared 31%! The reasons cited is that renting a single family dwelling gives the tenant the opportunity to experience residing in a house without being tied to the financial burden associated with home ownership. Well duh!

Additional statistics and information cited in the article:

1. Homeownership reached a 19 year low last year.

2. Real median household income has remained flat even though the economy is improving.

3. Families needing a place to live will turn more to renting single family homes as an alternative to buying a home.

4. Overall, there is a low supply of single family rentals and that should mean increased profits for landlords.

Bad News: Austin Jobless Rate Is The Lowest In 5 Years!

This was the headline for the article from todays Austin American Statesman – sounds good right? It then goes on to read that 23,700 jobs were created in Austin in 2013 – still sounds good, right? Later on we find that this rate is “only” a 2.8% increase in job creation since 2009 (and that should give us something to complain about?). I don’t think so! Austin has seen it’s lowest unemployment rate in 5 years – 4.5%, and that is an envious figure by any standard!

Here Comes Another 300!

Jobs that is – HID Global has relocated their operations from Irvine California to Austin and will create 300 new jobs. HID makes access cards to enter buildings, authentication products to secure hardware (Target should look these guys up) and they also make products that wouild allow firms to make their own ID cards. Although the was no information on the pay scale for the positions it was stated that there are plenty of jobs on the production end (lower pay range) as well as those with big pay checks. Just more good news for our booming area, and more of a reason to own Austin area real estate. These folks have to live somewhere – close to home I hope – our traffic is horrible!

Austin Makes Forbes List (Again!)

That’s right folks, Austin, as reportred in the Austin American Statesman today, writes that the Forbes list of the 25 best places to retire included Austin. The reasons for the ranking included, low crime rate, “bikeability”, the University of Texas (UT offers lectures for seniors on campus), and lower than average cost of living. Also making the list were nearby Fredricksberg, and San Angelo.

How does a salary of $135,000 Sound to You?

That will be the average salary of Athenahealthcare, Inc. a cloud based health technology outfit already with an Austin address. They are thinking of adding 35 more new jobs by the end of the year to their local base and the pay is to average a bit of $135K a year. Plans call for a total of 100 new jobs by the end of 2016, and a bunch more to come after that. It’s not a done deal, but they are strongly considing it. Stay turned for futher developments, and —- isn’t it a great time to own Austin area real estate. Rents are up, inventory down, and folks keep coming to town!

2015 Looking Ahead at the Austin Area

For us investors in Austin area residential real estate 2014 was as good as any fine wine. The harvest for 2015 is proposed to be equally as good according to those folks that make a habit and a good living by reading the tea leaves and animal entrails. A recent article in our local paper the Austin American Statesman, recently published the results of the …local fortune tellers and all looks good for us for 2015. Brian Kelsey of Civic Analytics of Austin predicts that the unemployment rate will fall from 3.9% (and this is a great number) to 3.1%. Wow! That figure represents full employment. Every time I go to a shopping plaza I see signs that positions are open. Kelsey quoted a report that stated that the area economic growth would be 4.7% in 2015 up from 3.9% in 2014. The retail sector continues to expand with retail space occupancy rate over 95% and no ease up is in sight. As I’ve stated in previous columns, a lot of retailers are following the traffic to the Austin area because of the vast number of emigrants moving here. The article also quoted Eldon Rude, a local real estate forecaster, who stated that home prices on the average increased 34% in the last four years. This is great news if you own a home but not so good news if you are a renter wanting to buy a home. This means that many renters will remain renters and that is good news for those of us owning Austin area residential rentals. Keep in mind that many of the emigrants to our area fall into the well paid millennial category who don’t want to be tied down to homeownership. Good! Just another reason why owning Austin area residential rentals is a great idea!

A Few Jobs Here-A Few Jobs There = Well More Jobs Everywhere!

Austin’s “Sparefoot” is an on-line company that lists self-storage units availability and rates, is adding 31 jobs to it’s employee base. I never knew such a service even existed! Also, this week, local advertising agency McGarrah Jesse landed the Whataburger account and will add 15 employees to handle the workload. For you out of staters, Whataburger is a San Antonio based hamburger “restaurant chain” that is very popular in these parts. The original Whataburger is still standing in Corpus Christie. They make a decent burger. Since the unemployment rate in the Austin metro area is about 4.7% I assume that the new talent will have to be imported, and then means good news for us residential real estate investors, as these folks will need housing.

Austin Economy a View to the Future a Look at the Past

As recently reported in the Austin American Statesman, Angelos Angelou, a local economist, predicts that Austin will add an additional 29,000 jobs in 2014. That amounts to 2,415 a month, or on a daily basis, over 79 jobs a day! He further predicts that our unemployment rate, presently around 5% will job to about 4.8%. That means that just about anyone looking for a job can get one. For what is worth, the Texas Workforce Commission states that through November, the Austin job market grew 21,700 and that Angelou had predicted that Austin would see 29,000 additional jobs in 2013. Adding the monthly average of 2,315 jobs to 21,700 you end up with a projected new job figure of 24,115. Yes he missed the mark some, but that figure is still darn good! The rest of the USA is envious I’m sure.

Housing is still tight making this a great time to own Austin area real estate. In going over the figures for our new leases written in 2013, I find that the rents were up 7%. A remarkable figure is that we wrote “exactly” the same number of leases last year as we did this year.

So Happy New Year Y’all!

Austin Area Unemployment Rate

As recently stated in the Austin American Statesman the unemployment rate in our area hit a low spot not seen since 2008: 4.7%. We have the lowest unemployment rate in the state, and I bet it is also true for any major US city. Leading the charge to employment are the fields in professional, technical, and scientific areas. In a different article on a date, the paper reported that 27 new retailers opened in northwest Austin.

It all fits: this is a great area to live in with a good climate, except for summer but that is tolerable. No state income tax, reasonable real estate values, and an educated populace are the main reasons why companies are expanding here, moving here entirely, and why jobs are being created.

This area is a great place to invest in residential real estate while the prices are still low and with great financing still available. Moving here from San Jose California in 1981 after there for most of my live, I experienced the growth of that area. Now I get to do it again; I am twice blessed!

More Apples for the Austin Area!

Its official, Apple announced that they have begun building their Mac Pro Computers at their Northwest Austin plant, a $282 million dollar facility (now those aren’t small apples!). An additional 1,700 are anticipated as a result of this program with an average wage of $54,000 now and up to $73,000 within ten years.

Good news just keeps getting better!

Austin Job Growth Remains Strong!

As reported in today’s Austin American Statesman, the Austin job growth continues to surge and outpaces the state and national averages by a long shot. In September and October (the two months are combined because you may remember we had a government burb the closed down government) local employers added 11,600 jobs (isn’t that the size of a small city?). The unemployment rate dropped to 5.1% which is 1 point lower than the Texas rate and 2 points lower than the national rate. Drew Scheberle of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce was quoted as saying that high-wage and middle-wage jobs are absorbing the new comers.

This is all great news for those of us that own Austin area residential rentals. Area rents continue to increase as there is continued demand for good rent housing.

400 New Jobs Coming to the Austin Area

Walmart, as reported in today’s Austin American Statesman, is opening 2 new stores in our area that, between the two of them, will employ 400 full time and part time employees. The stores are planned for Elgin and Manor. Employees will start working in January, 2014.

This is just another sign of how our area is growing. In watching all of these events unfold, I first saw the people coming to our area, and that is still happening. Now, the picture is getting cloudy, it seems that retailers are coming before the people get here so as to have a head start on the competition. So long as they bring jobs and people with them, come on we have rent houses waiting for you!

The “Austin Brand”

In the Sunday Austin American Statesman of 9 Nov 13 there was an excellent article about how the F 1 race event puts the spotlight on the Austin brand. Next week will be the second year for Austin to host the event which will give it world wide exposure estimated to be the equivilent of $190 million in free adverstising! Branding is defined as creating and maintaining a unique perception, and Austin is “very unique” and this uniqueness is in part why business relocate here, and that in turn is why it makes good sense to own Austin area real estate. The article stated that the Austin uniqueness is centered around F 1 and extreme sports, music festilviles, restaurants, high tech, and the film industry. (Note that since the 1990’s that over 200 movies and TV shows have been filed here and that too is great free advertising). To this you could also add not so unique and hum drum things like the University of Texas and Austin being the state capitol, and of course its location at the tip of the “Hill Country of Texas”. Kiplinger’s rated Austin as one of the best city of the next decade. Now who wouldn’t want to own a piece of prosperity?

Rick Ebert/Austin, Texas/9 Nov 13

Oracle Expanding Austin Area Operations

More great news folks: Oracle is the second largest software company and they are expanding their already extensive operations here even more! This apparently is going to be a slow expansion but they plan, according to the Austin American Statesman, to add another 200 jobs here by 2017. The reported average wage for those jobs is in the neighborhood of $68K yearly. Can we tell them to leave their cars at home-the traffic here is the 4th worst in the USA. I guess it is the price of a booming economy. I won’t complain as it is a great time to own Austin area real estate-these new Texans have to live somewhere!

Rick Ebert/Austin, Texas/6 Nov 13

My Fit Foods HQ has Moved to Austin

My Fit Foods is a company selling pre-packed healthy and fit foods has moved its headquarters from Houston to Austin as reported on local TV stations and in the Austin American Statesman. They currently have 30 employees at their HQ and will hire an additional 20 to fill out their roster. My Fit Foods has 13 Austin locations and 70 thoughout the US. The change was made according company officials because of the economic climate of Austin coupled with the availability of local talent. Next year the firm plans on adding an additional 15 stores. I gotta tell ya, that I have used their meals when the chief cook has been away, and they are not only healthy, but taste great!

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas / 3 November 13

More Jobs Coming to Austin | Property Management Update

According to the Austin American Statesman, Flextronics, an Austin company plans to expand it presence here by creating over 800 new positions in the next two years adding to the already 879 positions most recently created. The firm makes “next generation” desktop computers, smart phones and the like. Dell recently announced that it would stop making computers in China and move operations to the U.S.A. Well, maybe this is the “place”. Also in the paper, Revonics from Roseville, California will be moving its home office to Austin. They currently have an office here and the move will add about another 35 folks. The firm creates software that helps retailers optimize pricing. Now if we could UT to win more ballgames, get cooler summers, and have less traffic, my world would be ideal!

Rick Ebert / Austin, Texas /

Real Wealth Through Real Estate


It has been stated many times that more personal wealth has been created with real estate investments than any other commodity. Sure, there are exceptions, but they are “exceptions” and not the general rule. One of the reasons for this is the ability to control an expensive asset, like a single family dwelling, with a relatively small amount of money (leverage). You can then sell it or better yet, refinance it, for a profit, all the while having the government (yep, that’s Uncle Sam) and other people (renters) help you be successful in this endeavor. Space limits an in depth discussion on real estate investing, and yes, as with all investments, there are risks and drawbacks; but overall, owning a real estate investment will reward you with wealth, and with wealth, you can be the beneficiary of peace of mind.

Start With What You’ve Already Got!

If you already own a home, you are on the way to financial freedom and creating real wealth through real estate. You should, if possible, always invest in owning your own home before buying an investment property. The caveat here is that in some parts of the country, it is very expensive to own real estate, and buying a home seems like the “Impossible Dream,” and is therefore out of the question. For this reason, the Austin area, which is a very affordable area by national standards, makes a perfect place to own investment real estate. Many times one can buy an investment home in our area, hold it for a time, cash out, and then use the sales proceeds towards that “starter home” in those expensive parts of the country where prices seem astronomical compared to prices in our area.

For most of us, that home that we currently use as our domicile often times will make a perfect real estate investment, and for several reasons. First, you already are familiar with the property, including the location and demographics. Second, and it should be obvious, you already own it, and this brings you both equity and favorable financing as owner-occupied homes often are financed at a lower interest rate than investment properties, and often the financing is with a lower down payment.

The question then arises, “But I need the money from that house to make the down payment on my new home, don’t I?” The answer to that is maybe, and this comes down to making a personal decision. If you are contemplating buying a new home as your domicile and using your current home as an investment, you might want to consider “refinancing” your current loan, pulling the cash out of the equity, and using that cash “tax free” as the down payment for your new home. Remember, I stated earlier that Uncle Sam would be of help to you. The cash you pulled out of your home is not taxed, and now is a good time to mention that that is true even if the home was already your investment property. There is no income tax on these proceeds, and that makes for a good argument for not selling your real estate investments. You also need to take into consideration that interest paid for your home-domicile is a tax deduction, so in some instances, a larger home mortgage might be the way to go. As always, check with your tax professionals before making any investment or financial decision. As I stated before, we are limited on space so I can’t elaborate.

Getting Started If You Aren’t Using Your Current Home As An Investment

If you are a seasoned real estate investor, you may want to move on because, although there may be some “investment nuggets of knowledge” for you here, you’ve already read the information before somewhere else; and either you have put the information into play or you never will do so.

Folks, just don’t read a book on real estate investing, or view a clip on it, or attend a seminar. Get out and talk to real estate investors in the area where you are considering making your investment. The best sources of information, of course, are the local REALTORS® who also manage rentals similar to the ones you are contemplating buying or already own. Preferably, this person is also a “professional property manager.” So let me state here, “You have found me!”

By professional, I mean someone who devotes the majority of their business life to the Austin property management profession. This person should be a member of several professional organizations so he or she can stay abreast of ever changing laws and who can take advantage of professional business practices that affect the property management industry. A credentialed property manager from the National Association of Property Managers, NARPM®, or from the Institute of Property Management, IREM®, would be a person with the needed skills and knowledge to effectively manage your real estate investment.

Average Austin, Texas Example

This typical Austin rental comes from information and statistics obtained from the Austin Board of REALTORS® in a typical subdivision with typical rentals, which reflect how an average single family rental will perform. In some cases, the figures have been rounded up or down to make the example easier to follow. However, as you will soon see, this rounding doesn’t significantly impact the overall investment performance.

This example uses a single family dwelling of 1,683 square feet (ideal) purchased in 2000 for the average sales price of that subdivision of $132,000. Assuming the down payment was 20%, $26,000, the amount financed would be $106,000. In 2000, a typical interest rate for the year was 7.5%. The monthly principal and interest (P&I) of a 30 year fixed loan is $741.00. The average property taxes on this typical average rental are $181 a month, and let’s assume that the insurance is $70 a month: that totals $992 a month. The average rent in 2000 for this typical average rental was $1,157 a month, and that equates to a gross positive cash flow of $165 a month. For the record, the average rents in the 10 year period had an average yearly low of $1,065 in 2005 and an average yearly high of $1,233 in 2008. In 2009, the last year studied, the average rent was$1,203 a month.

As with any physical asset, there is physical deterioration and maintenance, and because space is limited, a discussion of maintenance expenses cannot be given here. Depending on the condition of the property, one should expect to set aside between 5% to 10% of the gross rent for repairs and maintenance. Professional property management in Austin can have expenses in the range of 10% of the income. Remember Uncle Sam? Since your rental is a “business,” most of your expenses, if not all of them, will be used to off set the income as deductions. This means that the management fee that you are paying is not your “net management fee” after all (very neat!).

God bless Uncle Sam! With real estate investing, the IRS is also your friend! This typical house gets to have a depreciation schedule on the sticks and bricks (not the value of the land) of 27.5 years. For example and simplicity, let’s say that our purchase price of $132,000 had $32,000 valued in the land, meaning that we can depreciate the physical asset of $100,000 over 27.5 years or $2,750 a year. Couple this with the other fees that accompany ownership of investor properties (management fees, insurance, repairs, etc.) and the amount of money that you can use to offset income can be substantial. With these deductions, you are solidly in the black monthly. The picture gets even better. With all of these IRS approved deductions in hand, why not go to your employer and increase the deductions you take so you reap these benefits monthly with each pay check vs. waiting to do it at the end of the year?

Our typical rental in the real life example that was purchased in 2000 for $132,000 with a $26,000 down payment, sold in 2009 for an average sales price of $207,500, a gross profit of $75,000. Now your net profit will depend upon the other expenses associated with the property such as management fees, repairs, improvements, property taxes (they didn’t always increase during the study period), and so forth. However, for our example, you made a profit of $75,000 with a $26,000 investment for a tidy sum of $49,000. And who helped you make this profit? Why it was Uncle Sam, his cousin the IRS, and the renters (yes, they spilled soft drinks on the carpet) who covered the majority of your expenses and covered the P&I payments with their rent.


This is too good to be true. What’s the catch? Why doesn’t everyone own investment real estate?

And so the objections come. The answers are: it’s not too good to be true, there is no catch, and most people are afraid of risk, and therefore, they are equally afraid of success. Yes, there are people who are afraid of success. Our company motto is

“We Manage For Your Success!” We truly want you to be successful!

Using this example, plug in all of your objections, and then ask yourself this question: If the end result was only half as good and if the profit was “only” $24,500, would this still be a good investment for me?

If the answer is yes, and I bet it is, you should contact us today to see how we at Austin Landmark Property Services, Inc. CRMC® can help you reach your real estate investment objectives.

Additional Information

The example used herein was typical for the type of property in the subdivision studied, which was a typical subdivision for the Austin area. There is a saying in real estate that the 3 most important things about real estate are “Location, Location, and Location!” Preferably, your investment will be an “average property in an average neighborhood.” If your investment is too far below or above average, it usually won’t perform as well as a property that is more in line with what is average. This includes the size of the home, the size of the lot, paint colors, carpet colors, parking arrangements, number of trees on the property: everything.

Before making any investment decision, always check with your tax advisor to determine if the investment is keeping with your long-term financial goals and is suitable to meet those needs.

About the Author

Rick Ebert, MPM®, RMP®, is vice president of Austin Landmark Property Services, Inc. CRMC® (ALPS). While working in the insurance industry, he purchased his first real estate investment in 1976 and made a profit in 18 months. He and his family have been buying, selling, and managing residential real estate for over 25 years in the Austin, Texas area. ALPS is a Certified Residential Management Company (CRMC®) and manages hundreds of single family homes in the greater Austin area.