Denton made Kiplinger's list of the top 10 towns you'll want to live in.

Denton made Kiplinger’s list of the top 10 towns you’ll want to live in.

I’m sure Augusta, Ga., is really nice and all, but do you really want to live there? Isn’t it a better place to visit?

That’s why Kiplinger’s broke down it’s well-known list of “cheapest cities to live in” and spawned it’s list of “cheapest cities you want to live in.”

That’s a pretty significant distinction, although several cities on the former list made it on the latter.

The cheapest places to live aren’t necessarily the best places to live. Cities with super-low living costs can suffer from high unemployment, poverty and a lack of services. So while cost of living is an important consideration in choosing where you settle down, it’s equally important to gauge the strength of the local economy and the job market.

With this in mind, we set out to identify the most inexpensive cities where you would actually want to live, based on economic health and affordability. We started with the 100 cheapest cities in the U.S., based on cost of living, and then whittled the list down to the top 10. To do so, we required that each city have below-average living costs, high household incomes relative to the cost of living, and an unemployment rate that’s below the national average. It’s not all work and no play, however. We also looked for places that offer residents access to fun, low-cost things to do. Cities with populations below 50,000 didn’t make the cut.

While the cities are diverse in make-up and location, we’re happy to report that several Texas towns made the list, including Round Rock, Temple, Denton, and Corpus Christi.

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Jen and Brandon Hatmaker, along with their five children, will star in an 8-episode HGTV series starting tonight at 10 p.m.

Jen and Brandon Hatmaker, along with their five children, will star in an 8-episode HGTV series starting tonight at 10 p.m.

I love Jen Hatmaker. Seriously. Just love her. A friend of mine who lives in Buda introduced me to her a while back. They lived in the same neighborhood and I swear, my friend has the most gigantic girl crush on Jen. After a while I realized that it was completely justified.

So now Jen has gone and combined two things I love — great writers with sharp humor and home design — in her HGTV show that debuts tonight at 10 p.m. It’s called “My Big Family Renovation” and it’s eight episodes following Hatmaker’s family of seven through eight months of completely gutting a two-bedroom, two-bath 1908 farmhouse and turning it into the family home she’s always dreamed of.

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Photo via Gawker

Photo via Gawker

I’m sure you’ve already seen the photo about this poor guy who was just trying to sell his Austin condo and ended up flashing everyone in the process.

As it turns out, it was all an accident, says KDFW’s report on the … ahem … matter.

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Hottest-neighborhoods_1280x960

I’m going to be honest: I hadn’t even heard of Barrington Oaks until Redfin published this list of hottest neighborhoods. As it turns out, this subdivision, which is just south of Balcones Country Club, is full of great homes in the $200s to $400s with a median list price of around $364,000, ranging in age from the late 1960s to some recent construction. So, why is this neighborhood such a hot commodity with homebuyers? Here’s the consensus from boots-on-the-ground Redfin agents:

Redfin agents have found that the real trend in 2014 neighborhood popularity is a short commute at an affordable price. The trending neighborhoods offer a short drive to or easy access to a commuter rail line at prices that are not the most expensive in the city.

Yes, this location is great, considering it’s just of 183 in the northeast area of Austin. It has some gorgeous houses, too. I’m especially smitten with this renovated 1980s soft contemporary at 11310 Yucca. It has four bedrooms, two baths, and a fantastic backyard with pool, which you will definitely want come summer. Redfin agent Cyndy Stewart says the location will mean a short commute to many Austin employers with great shopping nearby. “Another perk of this up-and-coming neighborhood is the sought-after school district,” Stewart said.

11310 Yucca Austin

Other hot neighborhoods in Austin, according to Redfin research, include Millwood, Stone Canyon, Fern Bluff, and North Austin (which has a totally boring name, amiright?). I am kind of bummed that North Texas didn’t make the list at all, which is crazy considering that half of Dallas is trying to find the perfect home in Lake Highlands right now.

We asked our Facebook followers what their favorite neighborhoods in Dallas were, and tons said Lake Highlands, Midway Hollow, Preston Hollow, and so many more. Tell us, what do you think is North Texas’ hottest ‘hood?

 

Hottest-neighborhoods_1280x960

I’m going to be honest: I hadn’t even heard of Barrington Oaks until Redfin published this list of hottest neighborhoods. As it turns out, this subdivision, which is just south of Balcones Country Club, is full of great homes in the $200s to $400s with a median list price of around $364,000, ranging in age from the late 1960s to some recent construction. So, why is this neighborhood such a hot commodity with homebuyers? Here’s the consensus from boots-on-the-ground Redfin agents:

Redfin agents have found that the real trend in 2014 neighborhood popularity is a short commute at an affordable price. The trending neighborhoods offer a short drive to or easy access to a commuter rail line at prices that are not the most expensive in the city.

Yes, this location is great, considering it’s just of 183 in the northeast area of Austin. It has some gorgeous houses, too. I’m especially smitten with this renovated 1980s soft contemporary at 11310 Yucca. It has four bedrooms, two baths, and a fantastic backyard with pool, which you will definitely want come summer. Redfin agent Cyndy Stewart says the location will mean a short commute to many Austin employers with great shopping nearby. “Another perk of this up-and-coming neighborhood is the sought-after school district,” Stewart said.

11310 Yucca Austin

Other hot neighborhoods in Austin, according to Redfin research, include Millwood, Stone Canyon, Fern Bluff, and North Austin (which has a totally boring name, amiright?). I am kind of bummed that North Texas didn’t make the list at all, which is crazy considering that half of Dallas is trying to find the perfect home in Lake Highlands right now.

We asked our Facebook followers what their favorite neighborhoods in Dallas were, and tons said Lake Highlands, Midway Hollow, Preston Hollow, and so many more. Tell us, what do you think is North Texas’ hottest ‘hood?

 

Swananoah Front

Homes priced at $1 million or more are moving like hotcakes in Texas, according to the 2014 Texas Luxury Home Sales Report from the Texas Association of Realtors. The figures, assembled using data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, show that every Texas metro area posted double-digit growth in luxury price ranges.

Dallas posted a 22 percent increase in luxury home sales for the period between January and October 2013, the report shows, with Austin posting a whopping 55 percent increase (no wonder Trulia is calling our capital city way overvalued). Houston came in second with a 46 percent increase in luxury home sales, and San Antonio posted an 18 percent increase.

“Data from the Texas Luxury Home Sales Report shows that million-dollar homes are playing an increasingly important role in the Texas housing market,” said Dan Hatfield, chairman of the Texas Association of Realtors. “The housing slump is behind us and as Texas’ economy and population continue to accelerate, we’re going to see increasing development and demand in larger, higher-priced homes with luxury amenities.”

So, what’s driving the increase? It’s mostly thanks to the influx of high-paying tech jobs in Austin, and in Houston it’s likely due to oil and gas wealth moving into the area. For Dallas, a brisk job market driven by a healthy financial sector, as well as oil and gas wealth, could be fueling the luxury real estate market. The increase in sales definitely shows appreciation, though, and it makes you wonder just how many of these $1 million-plus properties are second homes or even investments.

“It’s common for luxury homes to have a significantly longer sell time and higher housing inventory than the average home simply because the pool of interested homebuyers is so much smaller,” said Jim Gaines Ph. D., and economist with the Real Estate Center. “However, this data still indicates strong demand, particularly in Austin, where homes of $1 million or higher are close to 10 percent of all active listings and are selling in less than six months, and in Houston, where housing inventory is only 7.4 months.”

Here’s the Dallas-Fort Worth market breakdown from the report:

In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, 809 luxury homes were sold between January and October 2013. Luxury home sales made up 1.1 percent of the total housing market and experienced a 22 percent increase in sales compared to the same period in 2012. This is slightly higher than the 19 percent year-over-year increase of the Dallas-Fort Worth housing market as a whole. As of October 2013, there were 922 active luxury home listings, 4.1 percent of all active listings on the market. The housing inventory for a luxury home was 11.4 months, 8.4 additional months than that of the Dallas-Fort Worth housing market at large.

 

 

 

Top 10 Best Performing MSAs

It’s definitely an improvement over last year’s ranking of 14th, with Dallas coming in 7th in this year’s Best-Performing Cities poll from the Milken Institute. The Dallas-Plano-Irving MSA beat Houston-Sugarland-Baytown (8th) but came in behind top-ranking Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos.

The poll tries to objectively measure job creation and retention, as well as the economic vitality of the nation’s metropolitan statistical areas. Thanks to Austin’s booming technology sector and growth in high-paying jobs, put the Texas capital city ahead. Here’s what the authors attribute to Austin’s lead:

This year’s Best-Performing City, Austin, is a case study in concocting the proper recipe for economic vitality.  A rising technology center, it is creating high-quality jobs that improve the region’s overall wage structure.  Economic development officials rightly tout its business-friendly, low-tax, low-regulation climate when recruiting outside the state, particularly when soliciting California firms. They also herald the business startups of local  entrepreneurs, the spinouts from the University of Texas, Austin, and the number and quality of UT graduates.

Austin’s technology base is fairly diversified: hardware, chips and communication gear, computer system design, Internet-related services, and biomedical research. The metro has its share of homegrown tech companies — Dell, Freescale Semiconductor, Flextronics International, and National Instruments among them — and has been successful at attracting technology icons from elsewhere as well. The financial services sector is also adding jobs.

Dallas Milken Report chartDallas made big gains this year, though, moving up seven spots thanks to its active financial services market and the growth of technology-related companies. It has one of the most diverse economies, the report claims, and Dallas’ economic growth was one of the fastest in the past year.

What we noticed in the report that many Dallas homebuyers are noticing now, too, is the higher cost of living within the Dallas city limits, especially in middle-class neighborhoods. The Milken report cautions that this could push companies and wage-earners to move outside the area, a trend that Austin is seeing right now with families finding housing within the city of Austin to be overpriced. Still, wage growth helps buffer high housing costs, an area in which Dallas trails.

How do you think Dallas can become an even better-performing city?

Brother Vs Brother 2

Ever wanted to have your face on TV? My favorite cable channel in the whole world, HGTV, is casting for two shows in Texas. One show is Brother vs. Brother, and the other is an entirely new renovation competition series that pits friends and families against each other. The casting call is Monday, Sept. 16 at the Hyatt Regency Austin.

Read on for the full details!

For Brother vs. Brother we’re looking for: Passionate, charismatic individuals who have major hands-on skills, an eye for renovation and real estate know-how.
(Contractors, carpenters, Interior designers, architects, real estate professionals, artists and those with design expertise).

For the New Renovation Competition Series we’re looking for: Dynamic friends, couples or family members with big dreams and a love for renovation and design.
(Handy teams of two who think they have a superior eye for design. Although home renovation experience is a plus, it is not required).

When: Monday, September 16th from 10AM to 1PM
Where: Hyatt Regency Austin- 208 Barton Springs, Austin, Texas, USA, 78704
How: For more info visit: www.castinghgtvshows.com