Austin Realtors Warned About Parcels After Three Bomb Explosions — Gentrification Retaliation?

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Update, 10:56 pm: Police have found some possible connections – the stepfather of the man who died in the package explosion knew the grandfather of another bombing victim, police say.

My daughter and I were enjoying Austin ‘s SXSW over the weekend, and motoring towards Dallas Monday when news of yet another package bombing came. We left just in time, I said. Police continue to investigate three parcel bomb explosions over the last 11 days in quiet, hip Austin, Texas, as possible serial hate crimes or retaliation for gentrification in one of the neighborhoods.

And now they are warning Realtors to take extra cautions.

First there was the deadly explosion in early March that killed a 39-year-old man. The next one happened  Monday, killing a teenage boy opening a package, injuring a woman who was living at the same address. Then another bomb package left an elderly woman, who picked up a package found in front of her home, in critical condition.

The explosions have all taken place in the East Austin area, about five to 12 miles apart. The fact they occurred now during the annual film, media and music festival South by Southwest, has police and leaders even more upset. 

Which is why Austin police tell Real Estate agents to be on guard and extra cautious about packages, if they are out and about checking on any properties.

Agents tend to check on listings, and take any packages on the porch into the house as a courtesy. 

Apparently, even picking up the package can set off a bomb inside it.

“If I was going to show a property in the middle of the day and there was a package on the front porch, I would think twice about touching it,” says Julie Nelson, an Austin-based agent with eXp Realty, to Inman News. She is advising agents on what to do if they see a package at an empty home .

“If it was a vacant home, I would walk away and call 911. If it was occupied, I would probably call the listing agent. I would be a little nervous.”

Everyone in Austin is a little nervous.

Austin’s chief of police, Brian Manley, is advising residents to be cautious about opening any parcels they weren’t expecting and to call 911 if anything looks suspicious. He said today on local Austin news station KXANthat even picking up a package could set off an expertly-made bomb.

Whatever could be the diabolical bomb-maker’s motives? Police are investigating the possibility that the explosions could be hate crimes. The two victims were African-American, and the elderly woman was a 75-year old Hispanic female.
 
But others, including Realtors, have speculated that the crimes could be related to tension over gentrifying parts of fast-expanding Austin,  where a growing contingent of Caucasians is moving into what was once mainly African-American neighborhoods. That’s not the case in Northeast Austin, where the first (explosion) happened, but it is the case in Springdale Hills, the second one. Realtors say Springdale Hills has appreciated dramatically over the years, with young couples living in $300,000 home alongside original homes occupied by people in their 80s and 90s, who paid maybe $30,000 or $40,000.
 
What the point of doing something so horrific, as a re-gentrification protest, or for anything, is appalling. But police are telling Realtors everywhere to be extra careful: incidents like these sometimes invite copy cat behavior. 

 

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Candy Evans

A real estate muckraker, Candy Evans is one of the nation’s leading real estate reporters. She is also the North Texas real estate editor for Forbes.com, CultureMap Dallas, Modern Luxury Dallas, & the Katy Trail Weekly. Candy has written for Joel Kotkin’s The New Geography, Inman Real Estate News, plus a host of national sites. Constantly breaking celebrity real estate news, she scooped former president George W. Bush's Dallas home in 2008. She is the founder and publisher of her signature CandysDirt.com, and SecondShelters.com, devoted to the vacation home market. Her verticals have won many awards, including Best Blog by the venerable National Association of Real Estate Editors, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious journalism associations. Candy holds an active Texas real estate license but does not sell. She is on the Board of Directors of Braemar Hotels & Resorts (BHR).

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