310 Wennmohs 1.jpg ext SeriffYou will have to forgive us: October 12 to 15 is like a Nightmare on Elm Street for those of us who are self-employed. Joanna and I were both sharpening our pencils and left brains for Uncle Sam today. That’s why I grabbed this house at 312 Wennmohs Place for our Columbus Day pleasure. First of all, it’s on the water, Lake LBJ at Horseshoe Bay, which is a constant-level lake. That is huge because many lakes in Texas are hurting, especially in the Hill Country. As you know, Christopher Columbus did not get here on a motorcycle.

315 Wennmohs 15.jpg slips

Last week, while at a press retreat at Boot Ranch, I heard stories of development communities near Austin and San Antonio with bone dry wells. In fact, The Texas Tribune is having a seminar on “Water, Now What?” at TCU next Tuesday, which I hope to attend. So I thought we just needed a little “waterworld” to celebrate the man who helped discover America.

312 Wennmohs 2.jpg ext 2 312 Wennmohs 3.jpg LR 312 Wennmohs kitchen 312 Wennmohs master bedroom 312 Wennmohs 8.jpg bath 1 312 Wennmohs 11.jpg raquetball 312 Wennmohs 12.jpg racquetball 2 312 Wennmohs 10.jpg family312 Wennmohs 13.jpg pool infinityAnd oh what a way to celebrate: This sprawling seven bedroom, 8-plus bath home boasts 11,761 square feet on the  waterfront of Lake LBJ in chi chi Horseshoe Bay. The lakefront views are gorgeous and captured in every shot from floor-to-ceiling Pella windows. The interiors have hardwood floors & lavish special finish plaster walls. One is NEVER enough so there are TWO 2 master suites, a Viking gourmet kitchen, a regulation racquetball court, a locker room, solarium, infinity pool, & boathouse with three electric lifts & a guest slip. Talk about a home for family fun, this is it! One master suite is drenched in sunlight and enjoys lake views and a private patio access, with motorized drapes and blackout shades for late sleepers. There is an enormous wall of shelves for art, photos, books and a wide screen TV. Then the his and her walk-in closets – wow. Her’s has more more square footage, of course, and a separate cedar closet. This master bath has a barrel-ceiling with extras such as heated marble floors, his and her vanities and a large walk-in shower. Although there is a second level to this home, no rooms are positioned directly above the master suite for maximum privacy. The second master suite is located on the main level on the opposite side of the home and is every bit as loaded. Three more bedrooms are upstairs, and two downstairs. Two have a Hollywood bath, but the rest have en-suite baths.

There is an immense game room with its own private catering entrance and a fully equipped bar, billiard zone and a roomy cinema/entertainment area. Located at the far end of this is the regulation sized racquetball court – complete with high-impact glass spectator wall, separate temperature control and an adjacent locker room with a steam shower. The owners have hosted parties of up to 500 guests, and it sleeps an army.   Horseshoe Bay is in Marble Falls about four hours southwest of Dallas on Highway 281. This one will only set you back $7,500,000. Did I mention that it belongs to AOL co-founder Marc Seriff?  Seriff,  an Austin native, told Austin Classical Guitar that he and his wife met while working at Telenet – one of the pioneers of commercial data communications.  Says Seriff:

Carolyn remained at Telenet until her retirement, while I went on to do several DC-area startups ending up as the founding CTO of AOL.  We were married in 1989 and retired to Texas in 1996.  We’ve got two sons – Dan and Jason – both of whom now live in Austin. We spend most of our time at our home in Horseshoe Bay, although we now spend 2 or 3 days a week at our condo in downtown Austin.  We spend a lot of time attending the performing arts and I’m a huge Longhorn sports fan – especially basketball.

Well, guess they must be spending more time at that condo. Or somewhere. Anyhow, a pretty cool water crib and typical of the amazing properties in this neck of Texas. Christopher Columbus would have gotten to Texas as fast as he could had he known about Horseshoe bay… and this joint.Marc Seriff

1009_DogParkHaving just returned from a few days in Fredericksburg, I was amazed at how dog-friendly the Hill Country has become. A lot of stores welcome dogs with fresh water and treats in Fredericksburg, and dogs are made so welcome at Boot Ranch they are given their own bowls and bed. Bree’s water even had a lemon floating in it! That emanates over from Austin, which is one of the most dog-friendly cities in the nation.  Austin has more than 35 pet photographers. They also have a food truck specifically made for dogs. And in Austin, dogs are welcome  everywhere, almost.

But comes word through the Austinist that $3.5 million slated to restore Auditorium Shores Park with grass will ban most of the area from dogs.

Under the new plans for the park, the area that was once primarily used as an off-leash dog park (when it’s not hosting Fun Fun Fun Fest or other events) will now not allow dogs. At all. Off-leash or on. Dogs will instead be restricted to a relatively tiny strip of land on the west end of the park.

Not cool. At a public forum last night, about 40 people showed up and expressed their opinions — not happy campers they. Only one of the 40 expressed approval for the ban, and that might have been a city official who doesn’t like dogs licking his kids (he has three under 3, ever heard of spacing?) and who argued that since Muslim people cannot be touched by dogs, the dog ban would provide a comfortable space for Muslim Austinites. Folks were so hot under the collar City staff had to shut the meeting down after two and a half hours.

According to the Austinist, the donor picking up the tab, C3, gave the money strings-free and the new rules were cooked up by ”informal and anecdotal comments by maintenance workers” that dogs should not be allowed in the park.

Course not: they are tired of picking up poop!

The vision is to provide space at this iconic park so that we can all enjoy the space together, but separately,” City official Jesse Vargas concluded.

Separate but equal, separate but together! Sounds to me like the city is not listening to it’s tax-paying peeps. Think anything would ever go down like this in Dallas?

 

Elijah Wood Victorian

Later, Los Angeles! Hello Austin!

US actor  Elijah Wood waves to photographers upon his arrivalFrodo Baggins — I mean, Elijah Wood, AKA my secret teenage crush, has just bought the most adorable Victorian in Austin for $1 million says the Daily Mail. Originally built in 1890 and transported to Austin from Marlin, The Marlin House is a gorgeous historic property on South Mary Street that has been completely restored and updated with tons of great architectural details and modern finishes.

You can get a good gander at the house in the video below, but I’m thinking Elijah is going to have to add something a little more secure to the front yard than the existing picket fence to keep his adoring fans at bay.

My favorite part of this updated historic property is the beautiful wall of windows in the attic, giving the home panoramic views of the neighborhood trees. Gorgeous.

Chicago's not so hot anymore. The huge mid-west MSA didn't even make the top 20 list of Forbes' fastest growing American cities! (Photo: John Gress/Reuters)

Chicago’s not so hot anymore. The huge mid-west MSA didn’t even make the top 20 list of Forbes’ fastest growing American cities! (Photo: John Gress/Reuters)

As Candy already mentioned, pre-owned inventory is scary low, which is driving prices up for Dallas properties. Sure, demand means a seller’s market, but what about all of the folks that are either being born or moving to Dallas? That’s putting our housing market in a tough spot! Several big corporations have moved to Dallas in recent years — Comerica Bank being one of the largest — which has made move-in ready pre-owned homes sell like hotcakes.

For the study, Forbes measured the top 100 Metropolitan Statistical Areas using six metrics:

Using data from Moody’s Analytics, we assessed the estimated rate of population growth for 2012 and 2013, the rate of job growth in 2012, and the rate of gross metro product growth, or economic growth, for 2012. We also factored in federal unemployment data and median salaries for local college-educated workers, courtesy of Payscale.com. The result is a list of the 20 fastest growing metro areas in America in terms of population and economy.

I find it interesting that the three largest Texas cities — Austin, Dallas, and Houston — topped the national list based on these criteria, with San Antonio coming in ninth. Texas cities grew by 470,000 people in 2012!

Houston ranked second, behind Austin, followed by Dallas in third place and San Antonio in ninth. Robust labor markets, unemployment rates under 6% (well below the national average), no state income tax, a business-friendly regulatory environment, and strong population inflows all contributed to Texas towns’ high rankings.

Sure, we ranked high in 2012, but this is a year in which the Texas Legislature convenes, and we’re facing funding shortages across the board. Let’s see if we’re still considered “business-friendly” after the session in Austin.

Still, I wonder if this growth is sustainable for the Dallas housing market. Will we see an uptick in rentals? What will happen if the residential lending environment sours?

1233 Spyglass Drive viewThe old news is Sandra Bullock’s home has been on the market down in Austin for  254 days, and it still on the market for $2,500,000. The new news: you can now lease Sandra’s house for $8000 a month.

Stardom apparently is not as vital as good BBQ in Austin: as my fave Austin Realtor says,  “sorry but Oscar does not convey!”

1233 Spyglass Drive deck1233 Spyglass Dr fp1233 Spyglass Drive LRWe are talking about 1233 Spyglass. The 5663 square foot estate built in 1979 is very private, very gated, and very walled off. But once you get inside those walls, you have one of the best Austin skyline views in town overlooking Barton Creek and Zilker Park. The home has three bedrooms, three baths and I am sure a half bath somewhere. The master is pretty jazzed: bidet, dressing room, fireplace, jetted bathtub, walk-in closet (bet it’s fab) and fireplace which may be a see-through. There are formals, a family room, exercise room, office/study, pantry, wine closet and utility room. Outside there is a huge, and I do mean huge, swimming pool, spa, tennis court and jogging biking trail: the home sits on 1.76 acres. So you can rent this for $8000 a month, or buy it for $2.5. Go ahead, make an offer. This home has star power, but maybe it’s being overlooked right now because of this Oprah/Lance deal.1233 Spyglass Dr ext1233 Spyglass Drive aerial1233 Spyglass Drive tennis

 

1233 Spyglass Drive viewThe old news is Sandra Bullock’s home has been on the market down in Austin for  254 days, and it still on the market for $2,500,000. The new news: you can now lease Sandra’s house for $8000 a month.

Stardom apparently is not as vital as good BBQ in Austin: as my fave Austin Realtor says,  “sorry but Oscar does not convey!”

1233 Spyglass Drive deck1233 Spyglass Dr fp1233 Spyglass Drive LRWe are talking about 1233 Spyglass. The 5663 square foot estate built in 1979 is very private, very gated, and very walled off. But once you get inside those walls, you have one of the best Austin skyline views in town overlooking Barton Creek and Zilker Park. The home has three bedrooms, three baths and I am sure a half bath somewhere. The master is pretty jazzed: bidet, dressing room, fireplace, jetted bathtub, walk-in closet (bet it’s fab) and fireplace which may be a see-through. There are formals, a family room, exercise room, office/study, pantry, wine closet and utility room. Outside there is a huge, and I do mean huge, swimming pool, spa, tennis court and jogging biking trail: the home sits on 1.76 acres. So you can rent this for $8000 a month, or buy it for $2.5. Go ahead, make an offer. This home has star power, but maybe it’s being overlooked right now because of this Oprah/Lance deal.1233 Spyglass Dr ext1233 Spyglass Drive aerial1233 Spyglass Drive tennis

 

It wasn’t reflective heat, but Austin, our oh so ecologically correct sister city to the south, had major problemos last summer with the W Hotel and Residences last summer. The Austin-American Statesman found that Austin ”does not insist on the safest kind of architectural glass for guardrails, or specifically, require engineering inspections of exterior balconies on the high-rise buildings proliferating downtown.” Wow. Naturally, this led to some lawsuits.

You may recall the  W opened in December, 2011, very hip and cool, but six months later was shuttered, streets around it cordoned off. What happened? Eight panes of glass had mysteriously shattered, falling from balcony railings more than 200 feet high, crashing to city streets below. At least four people were injured, more damaged. Whether it was the heat that loosened high-strength grout from the bottom of the balcony slab on the 27th floor, or falling debris that damaged the top edge of glass the sleek glass panels, held by the hand-rail system at only four points, it was a mess. Experts told the Statesman that tempered glass, which is made by heating and then quickly cooling regular glass, is extremely strong toward the middle of a pane, but weakens considerably at its edges where it is more vulnerable. To this everyone looked at the developer’s engineering designers:

“For the W Austin Hotel and Residences, city officials said they relied on the developer’s engineering designs, just as they do with all projects. Although city inspectors visually checked the balconies, looking for things such as railing height and glass thickness, they didn’t verify the soundness of the design, according to Dan McNabb, the city’s division manager for building inspections. “We do not do engineering,” McNabb said. “No city does that.”

 

 

 

Central Texas home sales are up 19% over the same time period last year, that’s the good news. Bad (maybe) news is, prices have declined. The median price of an Austin area home last month declined by 3 percent to $189,720, according to the Austin Board of Realtors. For the year, the area’s median home price remained unchanged at about $194,900.

According to the Board, 1,455 homes were sold in Austin in October, compared with 1,219 the previous October. But like us here in Dallas, Austin is seeing a marked decrease in listings inventory. Every single day I get an email from an agent seeking a home for a client. In Austin, the number of homes on the market was down 18 percent, to 7,926 listings. Experts there say that is lower inventory than any month since 2008.

Like Dallas, experts say Austin’s housing market has fared better than many other parts of the country, fueled by job and population growth in the Central Texas region, among other factors.

This home is at 2206 Windsor Road (must click to see) and has those great hilly Austin views, even the Capitol in sight! It’s slightly higher than an average Austin home at $3,298,650. On the other hand, a recent $10.8 million Austin mansion was recently auctioned off for $3.3 million! Out of 4 bidders, with the minimum bid starting at  $1.9m, the 11,925sf waterfront estate finally found a new owner at only $3.3 million. Now that’s a price cut!