Looking for some Austin buying direction.

Asked by Greg, College Station, TX Sun Sep 14, 2008

I'm looking for the perfect house in the Austin area. Here are some of the features I'm looking for:

1M to 3M price range
Newer
Steal of a deal
5000-6500 square feet
Theater
4 car garage or more
.75 acres or more
Spectacular view
4 large bedrooms each with own bathroom
Close to Lifetime Fitness (preferably, 24hour Fitness secondary), restaurants, grocery
Little to no stucco
Little to no carpet
Roads with bike paths
Light colored woodwork
No serious traffic problems

Any suggestions on where I should be looking or do any of the Realtors on board have a listing that has what I'm looking for?

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Answers

36
Betina Forem…, Agent, Austin, TX
Sun Sep 14, 2008
Dear Greg,
I found eight homes that match your criteria, three are closer to the lake and a little further from Lifetime Fitness. All have the basics you asked for and are priced under three million. There were seven more that meet most of your criteria ecept for the no stucco on the exterior. The ones close to the lake have views, but may be further out than you really want to be to avoid traffic. Some of these homes are well over 7000SF, all have top of the line kitchens and home theaters. Most of the homes are close to Bee Cave Road and Highway 360, Several of them are in the highly acclaimed and sought after Eanes School District. You did not mention if you have children, but this school district adds value for your future resale of the property.

I have lived in Austin for the last twenty years and know it very well. I specialize in central/south/west Austin and the Lake Travis area. My background in construction has proven to be beneficial to my past clients. If you give me your email I can send the details on these homes to you and/or arrange a showing. Or you may go to my website and send me a private email. I have a Relocation Package that may be very helpful to you. Please let me know how I may be of assistance in any way. I look forward to your reply.
Sincerely,
Betina
Web Reference:  http://www.BetinaForeman.com
1 vote
Garreth Wilc…, Agent, Austin, TX
Sun Sep 14, 2008
Hi Greg,

Take a look at some of the homes at the link below and see if they take your fancy,

Thanks

Garreth
REALTOR®
512 694 8873
Web Reference:  http://tinyurl.com/garreth
1 vote
Greg, Both Buyer And Seller, College Station, TX
Sat Apr 18, 2009
Garry,

No need. I'm on a couple of email update lists and I keep getting notices of $200K reductions and still no takers.

Greg
0 votes
Garry Wise, , Austin, TX
Sat Apr 18, 2009
Greg,

I have been following your posting and the responses (and debates) that you have received, and think that all the agents have had some valid and often amusing responses....and I find it intriguing that there have been no offers to you to ground the speculation and/or judgments that have been made about the luxury real estate submarket in Austin (and the submarkets of the luxury submarket).

If you would like to have an intellectual conversation concerning statistical research that the Texas A&M Real Estate Center performs and our interpretation of the data, please contact me. I am happy to provide you with any help and consultation that you may require, at no obligation to you.

Please let me know if you would like copies of all the raw data and graphs that we compile, and I will send that to you today.

I wish you the best in your home search, and could not agree with your arguments more...

Garry
Web Reference:  http://www.goodlifeteam.com
0 votes
Greg, Both Buyer And Seller, College Station, TX
Sat Apr 18, 2009
I see the Austin luxury real estate market is still correcting.
0 votes
Betina Forem…, Agent, Austin, TX
Tue Oct 21, 2008
Dear Emile,
For the record the going rate for a Realtor is 3% not 7%. Also if you are the buyer, you are not paying the fee. The seller pays the Realtors fees for both agents involved in a transaction. So we are far less expensive than going to an architect if they are charging 7-10% to design a home. I wish you the best of luck in your purchase.
Sincerely,
Betina Foreman, Realtor Austin Texas
Keller Williams Real Estate
0 votes
Betina Forem…, Agent, Austin, TX
Tue Oct 14, 2008
Dear Jack,
I would be happy to help you find the right home on Lake Travis. There are several excellent builders in the area as well as some exceptional recently built homes that are avaiable as resale properties. If you would be so kind as to give me your email I will send them to you complete with photographs, so you may look at your leisure. I can also prepare the comps for the homes that interest you. If anything looks interesting you please contact me and I will take you to see them. My phone number and email are on my website below.

Sincerely,
Betina Foreman, Realtor Austin Texas
Web Reference:  http://www.BetinaForeman.com
0 votes
Jeffrey Schn…, Agent, Austin, TX
Tue Oct 14, 2008
To: Jack (answered this question as a buyer)

First, you really should post your own question to be fair to Greg, who's post this belongs to.

Second, be careful of offers to help from unknown sources. Look at the Trulia profile of each person who responds to you, and pick those that offer solid, balanced advice, not just those who offer information about active listings, or the appearance of rebates.

Third, go to http://www.austinhomesearch.com (or click on the link in the web reference to this answer). Set your search to Northwest Travis County, under Region, and enter the remainder of your criteria. Be sure to set the Property Type to House. This is an excellent, no pressure way to search the available inventory without any of us breathing down your neck.

Only search for Active properties under the Availability heading.

Once you get a feel for what's available, then contact an agent that is a good fit for you, either from their Trulia profile, or from another trusted source.

Careful of new homes. Worst investment you can make in any market. A slightly "used" home will be far less costly for the same features and location.

Good luck,

Jeffrey
0 votes
Alter Ego, , Austin, TX
Tue Oct 14, 2008
Greg,

Amusing rebuttal. Using your logic, I suppose the that you would not seek legal advice from an attorney. How ludicrous. If you've had a bad experience, I can understand your speticism. But in the long run, having a reliable and ethical real estate consultant on your team, will be invaluable. Otherwise, you'll continue to get mediocre results, and all the while think you're doing quite well.

Tata,

AE - Austin
0 votes
Ray Mungia, Agent,
Tue Oct 14, 2008
Jack,

Send me your email at Ray@experienceAustinRealEstate.com and I will send you all the properties that meet your criteria. If you have any questions, you can also contact me at 512-922-4267

Best Regards,

Ray Mungia
0 votes
Jack, Home Buyer, Florida
Tue Oct 14, 2008
Well since Greg already bought, maybe you can help me.

I'm looking in Austin, Rough hollow looks good, want to be on Lake Travis.

Less than 2 years old, preferably new. Under 3 million.
0 votes
Betina Forem…, Agent, Austin, TX
Tue Oct 14, 2008
Dear Greg,
It appears you have gotten lots of advice. Thanks for backing me up Alter Ego. I think what you (Greg) are seeing is a limited number of developers that are building very high end homes and over-pricing them. Then they have to adjust the price to reflect a more reasonable price. Some developers come here and expect to charge a super premium price for a luxury home. Not all luxury home buyers are willing to pay sticker price for a home. However some people don't care if they pay too much, in fact they may be proud to have such an "expensive" home.

On the other hand smart buyers will look at the actual list price per square foot and compare that to the recent actual "sold" prices per square foot for comparable homes. This is one reason it is good to have a Realtor on your side to fight for you to get the best deal on the home that you want. Often builders will incentivize you to use their lender and give you some freebie upgrades, but you usually end up paying for it with higher interest or hidden fees.

Allthough I live on my commissions, I would never advise someone to buy something just because I want a sale. That would be unethical. I have suggested to some past clients to pass on a house, because it had issues. My goal is not just to sell you a house. My goal is to find the "right house" and help you with the transaction in a timeline that works for you. I have never and will never push someone to buy because its what I want. All I want is for my clients to be happy and totally satisfied with their purchase. For me its not about the sale its about the people. Now I realize I am not your typical Realtor, but I think my clients feel that is one of the things that sets me apart from your average Realtor.

I see you already bought something, so it is really a moot point. I hope that you are happy with the house you selected and the price you paid. I wish you the best of luck in your future real estate transactions!
Sincerely,

Betin Foreman, Realtor Austin Texas
Web Reference:  http://www.BetinaForeman.com
0 votes
Greg, Both Buyer And Seller, College Station, TX
Mon Oct 13, 2008
Alter Ego you remind me of Enron's Jeffrey Skilling touting Enron stock to employees and stock holders all the while knowing things were dismal. Someone with a financial stake in real estate sales should never be consulted as to the direction of the market. They will invariably say up and the best time to buy is NOW!
0 votes
Alter Ego, , Austin, TX
Mon Oct 13, 2008
Greg,

Actually, we did not have a run up similar to California nor Florida. We don't have that kind of inventory of luxury homes, nor a similar buying public, and the land is not that limited here as it is in these 2 areas. What you're commenting on Greg is list price adjustments, which are meaningless. What Betina is commenting on is actual value of homes, which is what counts. In fact, home values in Austin, across the board, and especially more desirable, limited water front properties, continue to increase in value (not asking price), even in the current economic turmoil.

But the point is moot given you've already purchased something elsewhere. For any future effort, don't look at adjustments in list price as an indication of value, neither for appreciation, nor depreciation. And certainly don't look at list price as having any correlation to purchase price, especially for homes in excess of $1M in our market.

AE - Austin
0 votes
Greg, Both Buyer And Seller, College Station, TX
Mon Oct 13, 2008
Betina prices are coming down, not going up. In the last week a house in Waters Edge at Rough Hollow Lakeway went from $3,500,000 to $2,500,000. Austin had a run up of bubble like prices similar to California and Florida on luxury houses. Prices will fall further. Telling people to wait doesn't bode well for real estate sales and commissions though.
0 votes
Betina Forem…, Agent, Austin, TX
Mon Oct 13, 2008
Dear Greg,
You may just change your mind. I had four clients last year, that all saad I am going to wait for the prices to drop before we buy. You know what happend? They got far less house this year than they would have gotten last year for the same money. Now I found them all great houses, but the thing is prices went up not down. Don't wait too long or that dream property may be out of reach. I wish you the best of luck finding the property that is right for YOU!

Sincerely,
Betina Foreman, Realtor Austin Texas
Web Reference:  http://ww.BetinaForeman.com
0 votes
Greg, Both Buyer And Seller, College Station, TX
Sat Oct 4, 2008
I've given up on Austin. I think prices in Austin will drop much further and now is not the time to buy there.
I'm now focusing on Colleyville. I have a contract on 1.6 acres .7 miles from Lifetime Fitness, an IMAX theater and many restaurants. It also has an excellent high school.

I didn't see anything in Austin on acreage even remotely close to being as convenient.
0 votes
Emile, Home Buyer, Austin, TX
Sat Oct 4, 2008
Dear Greg,

For the money that you'll pay to a realtor for simply locating and closing the
deal on a home, you could also consider hiring an architect. This would be
a much better expenditure of that intital cost; i.e. 7% realtor fee vs. 7-10%
design fees for a custom home. You're much more likely to get a design
product that fits your specific needs rather than getting stuck in any one
of the poorly design faux-tuscan style homes that "high-end" builders
seems to feel are appropriate to this area. I'd give it some thought - really
realtor fees are just money thrown to the wind for little to no work.

Good Luck,

A Local Austin Architect
Web Reference:  http://aiaaustin.org
0 votes
Jeff Albrecht, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Austin, TX
Thu Sep 18, 2008
Greg:

Hello.

I think we'll pay Jeffrey by the word then?

I will be brief.

Although, he brings up a plethora of valid points.....

I believe in the "quality of the relationship" not the quantity of clients
that I can get through the turnstyle.

As both a Mortgage Broker & a REALTOR (since 1986) in Illinois, California, and now Texas,
I have about 1,000 contracts and 4,000 client relationships to draw upon.

There are a lot of "soft questions" that need to be answered first,
before you have 14 Realtors who are members of ABoR asking you "Greg - Work with me, work with me!"

Being that you are in an exclusive price point, have you thought about working with an architect,
and therefore building your dream home?

Where do you work, what is your commute, do you have kids, all sorts of soft questions,
before we get down to "What % / $'s are you putting down? What $'s do you make per year?"

I have people coming in from San Diego - who do not comprehend that Austin is not a rectilinear town, and that there are really only 2 ways from say Lakeway across town - go up and come down, or go down, and come up.

If you have a commute - how close do you want to be to work?

If you work VO (Virtual office), then you have your choice, but then we get in to the amenities,
or social life, kids, schools, etc.

Perhaps you buy something palatable, close to where you'd like to build, with the strategy of either selling the home, or keeeping it as a rental, when your "dream home" is complete.

Windsor Capital Mortgage is the Nation's 2nd largest Mortgage Broker, and we are both a
Banker as well as a Broker.

Most of the $1.0MM purchases - the Lender audience is finite, and with the proper documentation - we can have an answer for you in literally hours, not days.

If you have any questions / mortgage or real estate - feel free to call us @ 512-263-3132.

"Our clients are our friends, and our friends are our clients."

Good night.

Regards,


Jeff Albrecht
512-263-3132
REALTOR & Mortgage Broker # 53234
Synergy@JeffAlbrecht.com
Top Producer,
Texas Mortgage Broker,
Windsor Capital Mortgage,
California Department of Real Estate (DRE),
Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC),
REALTOR (NAR and TAR),
Austin Board of Realtors ( ABoR),
Dynamic Texas Realty.
Web Reference:  http://www.windsorcap.biz
0 votes
Micheal Pann…, Agent, Fort Worth, TX
Thu Sep 18, 2008
I would contact

http://www.ericbramlett.com/

He is a great agent in the Austin area. I have reffered a few people his way, He has always taken care of them.
Web Reference:  http://www.ericbramlett.com/
0 votes
Jeffrey Schn…, Agent, Austin, TX
Thu Sep 18, 2008
Greg,

You are absolutely correct, how much someone is paid does not always determine how experienced, nor skilled they are. There are many people in this business who get paid 3% (or more), and they don't have the spark to light a candle. What you should do, in my opinion, is find an agent you know has the skills and experience you need, then throw out the norm of 6%, 3% or any other percentage and work on a compensation plan that is fair. Pay for performance, and nothing else. But to presume that somehow you're getting a deal because you have an agent that is going to rebate you some amount of their commission is as folly as presuming the higher paid agent is more experienced.

As to the issue of a rating service, you are correct again, there is none. That is, there is none in the traditional sense. What I find most disturbing in this business is the lack of checking up on the agent one selects. While most of our business is referral based, of the "blue bird" clients we have contacting us, not one asks for a resume, a list of past clients, or some other fact based information to prove we know what we are doing, and that we do it very well. 9 times out of 10 they stick with us because they "liked" how the first introductory meeting went. While we take a different approach to this business, with something we call Exclusive Client Agency, I'm still surprised at how easy it would be for someone who did not have our ethics, nor experience, to "get" that blue bird simply by having a "good" introductory meeting.

As for the appraisal issue, I have to split on this one. I don't have experience with anyone spending this kind of money who goes for some level of financing that is anywhere close to the contract price on the home. All of our deals above $750K or so are putting more than 20% down, therefore, appraisal is a moot point. In fact, because our clients tend to put large amounts of money down, have strong portfolios, and solid credit, we often get the lender to waive the appraisal altogether as long as the automated valuation models the underwriter is using, come within 10% or so of the contract price. And our ability to understand value (see below) virtually ensures that the price we negotiate is at or below market value. Even after what happened this week, waiving an appraisal is still an option.

I can see where if a client wanted to try to buy such a property for less than 20% down, that an appraisal might be perceived as a stumbling block, but I don't have any of those types of clients. Again, not sure I want that type of deal in the first place as it speaks of other concerns that create larger liabilities. So in this type of situation, with little down, less than stellar credit, or a bad negotiated price in the first place, you're correct.

As for who can negotiate better, well, I simply have to refer back to the deal that introduced me to my current business partner. I had the same opinion, and I was very good too, but I wasn't as good as he was. Of course, now I'm better than he is, at real estate negotiations, and I haven't had a single client ever feel they could have gotten a better deal than I was able to negotiate.

Now I have to admit a bit of a secret and turnaround is fair game. My partner is a licensed General appraiser in the state of Texas. He's been involved in over 17,000 appraisals in his 23 year career. For every client in the Luxo market (pretty much everybody above $750K), as part of our services, regardless of whether or not the client is going to do any financing, he does a full blown appraisal report before the option period ends. I don't care what the list price was, and I don't care what the negotiated price was, I want a full blown appraisal with at least 6 comps, done by a licensed General appraiser, not just a broker's price opinion, or an agent's opinion of value. We use that, and anything that comes up in the option period, to continue to negotiate the deal. It's pretty hard for me to believe that someone who doesn't have my resources, knowledge of the market, and the number of negotiated deals in this business, can do a better job than me. Is it possible, yes, is it probable, no.

P.S. There's no turf to defend. I never indicated that we take 3% on Luxo deals. We simply don't do rebates, we agree with our clients in these types of deals what our fee is going to be ahead of time. With most clients in this market, we bill out at an hourly rate, with a cap that to date has never come anywhere close to 3% on a $2.5M deal. Excuse me, but Jesus H. Christ, does it make any sense at all to pay someone $75,000 on a $2.5M deal? They better have spent well over 1/4 of their entire year's effort, day in and day out, doing nothing else but that deal...doesn't happen, never will. Pay for performance.

Anyway, I really appreciate your responses. I wish you the very best in finding what you're looking for. Patience and persistence will pay off in spades.

Jeffrey
0 votes
Greg, Both Buyer And Seller, College Station, TX
Thu Sep 18, 2008
Jeffrey,

I disagree with your assumptions. Just because an agent is willing to work on my behalf for a $20K-$30K payday doesn't make him any less experienced or skilled at negotiation. The extra $40K-$60K going to different agent that doesn't rebate assures me of only one thing, $40K-$60K less in my pocket.

I don't know of any rating service of agents that rates agents according to negotiation skills. How am I supposed to independently determine who is better?

I've bought and sold a lot of real estate over the years and I benefited most when my agent knew the other agent well and the other agent fed my agent vital information. I do all the negotiating with the aid of information. I think it is unlikely an agent can out negotiate me unless my agent holds back vital information.

I do understand you wanting to defend and protect your turf though. I'd do the same if I were in your shoes.

I also disagree with your opinion on cash offers. A seller in any price range would much rather not have to go through the scrutiny of a lender appraisal. Especially in this financial climate.

Thanks for the debate.

Greg
0 votes
Jeffrey Schn…, Agent, Austin, TX
Thu Sep 18, 2008
Greg,

Contrary to other opinions, an all cash offer carry's little additional weight, if any, in this price range. In this price range, any seller is going to want to get very high assurances as part of the negotiations that the buyer has the wherewithal to purchase the home. And there's little trust between people who don't know each other, so there also isn't much difference between someone who submits an offer with a full hard approval, and one who can show cash in the bank for the purchase price. Again, in this price range, most buyers have the cash equivalent in their portfolio, but many choose not to purchase a home of this value with cash.

Many will argue that a "pre-approval" doesn't prove carry a lot of weight. I'm not speaking of the normal "pre-approval" that most use. I'm speaking of a hard approval, one that negates the need to even submit a third-party financing addendum to a contract.

That said, falsely, some sellers who don't have good representation, are lead to believe that an all cash offer is the best offer to get because it carries no lending qualifications, but that seems only typical of the mass market, not your price range of homes. This is a different beast than the price range where most homes sell (which is an average of about $250K in the Austin area). Any smart buyer in this price range is going to initially submit their offer as an all cash offer to attempt to get the best terms and conditions. Then once they've achieved their goal, they can then decide if financing a portion of the deal makes good financial sense, and change the terms of the deal during the option period.

Anyway, still best of luck in your search!

Jeffrey
0 votes
Jeffrey Schn…, Agent, Austin, TX
Thu Sep 18, 2008
Greg, I realize before providing the answer that this information is contentious, but it needs to be said.

If an agent were to help you purchase a $1.5M home (or any home at any price), and they don't have the experience, and skill at negotiating your best terms and conditions (it isn't just about price), it's a small consolation to get a rebate of 2%, and half the incentives. In fact, you could, and I will say, you probably will, end up with a deal where you did not get the best terms and conditions, so any perceived rebate is probably a net loss, not a net gain

The experience and skills of the best agents exists because they invest a great deal of time and effort in their profession. They choose to represent their client's best interests (sadly, this is not always the case in this profession), and they are willing to tell you when you shouldn't buy a particular property, more often than when they tell you, you should buy one

I've been in your shoes and thought I knew enough to negotiate my best deal, even though I had an agent representing me. What I thought I knew wasn't even close to what my agent knew. And even though I had experience negotiating tens of millions of dollars in corporate deals, those deals simply just aren't the same as the psychology of real estate transactions.

I even went so far as to tell my agent (who is now my business partner in real estate) that I wanted him to make up the shortfall in the price I "thought" was my best deal. I learned a valuable lesson that day. My agent said, "okay, I'll make up the difference (it was about 1% of the purchase price) of your current counter offer on this home and you can have that money at closing". Sounded great to me.

Then he paused and said, "or, you can now let me do my job and I'll get you 3 times that amount in a reduction of the seller's current offer." It wasn't that he was absent from the negotiations up to that point, in fact he had provided very good support. But I eventually wanted to exert my "expertise" and took over some of the negotiations, thinking I could do better. In the end he got me 4% more off the best price I thought we could have negotiated. AND, he still made 3% on the deal because he deserved it.

He also helped me realize that , that no matter what anyone tells you, you the buyer are always paying for everything in the deal, including the buyer's and the seller's agent's commissions. Since you the buyer are paying for everything in any real estate deal, which is better: to pick your agent because they will give you a rebate on their commission, or to pick your agent because they will do their very best to get you the home for the best terms and conditions possible.

In every deal I have ever been involved in since I started my career in real estate, I have done the latter, and my clients' have always purchased their homes for the lowest total cost, on the best terms. Not one ever questioned my compensation, even when I made sure they knew they were paying me for it, not the seller.

It would be easy to have the "appearance" of negotiating a price of a $1.6M home down to $1.5M and then rebate to you $30,000, and ONLY half of any buyer agent incentives. The buyer would think they got a deal on the home and they got +$30,000 back to boot. But the buyer who buys the same home for $1.4M and didn't get any rebate from their agent, beat everyone hands down, by up to $70,000.

Often the only difference in the agents is their experience, and negotiating skills. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish, and lulled into feeling that a rebate is going to make you money. What most often happens in these “rebate” situations, is that the buyer’s agent does some rather rudimentary negotiating (note, it might be made to look fancy, tedious, and hard, but it’s usually pretty basic effort). Then the person with the only money in the deal, the buyer, writes a check to the seller, who then takes money from that check and pays their agent, who then takes that money and pays some of it to the buyer’s agent, who then takes that money and gives some of it back to the buyer…and for some reason the buyer now feels good about getting money back that was theirs to begin with…and they likely overpaid for the property in the first place…that’s not a deal, that’s a steal, and the buyer is the one on the short end of the stick, but because there’s a “rebate”, it all feels good…hogwash plain and simple.

Look for experience and skill first, it’s all your money no matter where it goes or where it comes from, period!

Good luck either way,

Jeffrey
0 votes
Aaron, , Austin, TX
Thu Sep 18, 2008
Yes, cash speaks volumes, Greg.

When you say "newer", are you meaning the year of the home? Or, newer updates?

The first sentence in this post answers this next query. However, even though having an agent rebate 2% of his commission is phenomenal, I tend to agree that you would reap the benefits of a full-service agency in this transaction. Chartering Austin's $mil+ home market is challenging enough for a seasoned agent. I can't imagine doing it alone, not to mention, being unfamiliar with the Austin area. Put away all those stressful hours of navigating through countless web pages trying to acquire the right amount of information. Let a professional assist you in this purchase. You'll find more than an ample supply of qualified candidates in the Austin community, and in the end save yourself an enormous amount of time. Which, as we all know, is money.

My advice would be to call Eric Moreland. 512-480-0848. He's even assisted me when dealing with my similar client.
0 votes
Greg, Both Buyer And Seller, College Station, TX
Wed Sep 17, 2008
To cover some of these bases:

I just sold a 11,000 sq. ft. house near Houston and I took a beating even though I owner financed a 90% 2 year balloon note. I'm only pulling the trigger now if I'm on the better end of a beating. I'll offset that loss if I buy a heavily discounted existing inventory house rather than build a custom house. In other words, I need to buy it right.

To help in offsetting that loss I found an Austin agent that will rebate 2% of his commission plus half of any rebates. Because I'll be cutting into his commission, I'm trying to do as much of the legwork as possible. 1% of $2.5M (my estimate) is not bad and if any you guys have the right listing, 1-3% isn't either. That's one reason I asked for your listings that match what I'm looking for.

Daisy thanks for the link. That property has a killer view but it is missing too many of the other things I want.

Aaron I'll be paying cash which should also help in negotiations.

Jeffery I mainly like Lifetime Fitness because of their 2 basketball courts. Seven Oaks does have a lot of inventory and it is 10 miles from Lifetime Fitness but there doesn't appear to be many restaurants close by.
Your remark "The market above $1M has fallen off a cliff, so you should be able to negotiate a great deal." was music to my ears.

Betina I do have 2 teenagers, one is a junior and the other is a senior.

Thanks again for all the help.
0 votes
Ray Mungia, Agent,
Wed Sep 17, 2008
I have a few homes that meet your criteria in Tarrytown. Take a look at my listings via my website that is attached. Call me if you would like to view them.

Also, you might look into a custom builder, that could build to suit. The builder I partner has a lot and plans for such a property that you are looking for in Tarrytown (central Austin)
0 votes
Aaron, , Austin, TX
Wed Sep 17, 2008
Hey there, Greg. I tend to agree with Jeffrey's viewpoint. I have a similar client looking for many of the same things you are currently searching for. We've had to forego the 4th garage and look for a property with room to build. The theater has been a completely different issue. We've decided that a 1st floor bedroom could be a magnificent option for a devoted theater with some slight changes. There are quite a few routes around a home not meeting 100% of your requirements. aka - cash on-hand. If you have the cash allowance, consider what we've done . . . Waterfront property in need of minor updates. We dropped the price range by nearly $500k to allow for personal renovations and to suit his custom needs. Consider a one-time closing loan. So many options if you keep an open-mind. Just need to know where to look.
0 votes
Austinsrealt…, , Austin, TX
Wed Sep 17, 2008
Yes Let me build it for you.
0 votes
Daisy Nuse, , Round Rock, TX
Mon Sep 15, 2008
Check out this fabulous one of a kind view on Lake Travis! Listing #6328764- 12900 Park, Austin, Tx.

http://daisynuse.actris.mlxchange.com

Please call me, I can help you!
Sincerely,
Daisy Nuse-Broker
Prosperity Real Estate
512-573-6614
0 votes
Garry Wise, , Austin, TX
Mon Sep 15, 2008
Greg,

The criteria you have for a home can easily be located during an online search of the MLS database. I think what would be more appropriate and valuable for you to locate is a Real Estate Firm that suits your expectations and will provide you with an experience that wows you. Since all area Realtors have access to the same information, can provide it to you rather easily and rapidly in a like manner, you need to be searching for a Realtor or Team that has a marginal difference that will take care of you throughout the process with skillful negotiations, timely response to your requests, and provide you with an overall satisfactory home buying experience.

We recommend you interview at least 3 teams to take care of you during your home buying process, and you can find the research materials we have provided for buyers when searching for a home and interviewing Realtors at http://www.goodlifeteam.com/free_tips.asp

Please let me know if you have any additional requests, or if we may be of further assistance to you.

Krisstina and Garry Wise
Web Reference:  http://www.goodlifeteam.com
0 votes
Jeffrey Schn…, Agent, Austin, TX
Sun Sep 14, 2008
Greg,

Given either location works (I belong to the South one and like it much better than the North location - they upscaled lots of things), then it depends on when you want to get to the gym. With most of the homes West of Austin, and of those, most are in the hills on the North or South side of Lake Austin. For those on the North side, the North location is going to be more convenient. With those on the South side, the South location, for the most part, will be the easier one to get to.

Traffic really isn't an issue for either one, that's LifeTime's business plan, to make the gyms easily accessible off major highways. Given how successful the South location has been, I don't think it will be long before they open a West location, somewhere off of 71, either at the 290 end, or the 620 end.

But it still depends on where you find the "right" home. For the price range you're considering, you might find something in Escala, or Calera, off Southwest Parkway, then the South location works great. Even the homes in Seven Oaks off Bee Cave, will have an easier time getting to the South location.

By the way, in my humble opinion, LifeTime beats the pants off 24-hour, even though it costs more. It's just a night and day difference. But if all you need is a typical gym and 1 pool, 24-hour is the better deal.

The market above $1M has fallen off a cliff, so you should be able to negotiate a great deal.

Let me know if I can be of any further assistance.

Best of luck,

Jeffrey
0 votes
Greg, Both Buyer And Seller, College Station, TX
Sun Sep 14, 2008
Thanks for all the replies. To answer your questions, Jeffrey. Either Lifetime Fitness location would work and preferably less than 10 miles away. I suppose another factor is which Lifetime Fitness location has the better traffic situation? I don't commute to a job so rush hour traffic is not a problem for me. I just want to get to restaurants and Lifetime Fitness other times without heavy traffic.
0 votes
Jeffrey Schn…, Agent, Austin, TX
Sun Sep 14, 2008
Greg,

Given your approach, tread carefully. Everyone who responds is "going to have" a listing that fits your description. The facts would make that an impossibility. In the entire Austin MLS area, there are very few homes that fit the majority of your criteria.

For example, using the following criteria, 4,500-7,000 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 4 car garage, $1M to $3.5M list price, built in the last 10 years, there are only 31 homes out of a total of over 10,000 listings. Your criteria are very specific, which can be good, but if used specifically as you indicated, might miss some properties that meet most but not all of your criteria.

For some of the criteria, you can often find just the right property, and "fix" the one criteria that is missing. Most notably, the one that is easiest to fix is carpet. Then the theatre. Don't pass up homes that are missing these items, unless you absolutely have to have something that is move-in ready. Even the lack of a 4th garage space can be "fixed" if the home is priced well, and has all of your other features.

As for "no serious traffic problems", you probably need to define that one better, as it gives most people a chuckle, given this is Austin and traffic is always a problem.

When you mentioned being close to LifeTime, did you mean the North or the South Austin location? And how close is acceptable? Most all of the above properties that I mentioned are concentrated West of Austin.

If you are serious about your home search, I'd suggest using a buyer's agent to help you in the process. It will pay back in spades and likely help you achieve your objective of getting a great deal. Check out my profile if you're interested.

Good luck,

Jeffrey
0 votes
Josh Thomas, , Austin, TX
Sun Sep 14, 2008
Hi there,
Check out Senna Hills, Barton Creek West or Rob Roy in West Austin. Further out, You should really see Bella Montagna in Lakeway. Your best bang for your buck, however, will be at Grand Mesa in Leander.

This should help get you started. If you would like more info on these communities, contact me through my profile.

Good luck
0 votes
E.J. Mckinney, Agent, Austin, TX
Sun Sep 14, 2008
Hi Greg,

I am a Realtor/Buyers Specialist with a Team at Keller Williams here in Austin. Our team has been in Austin for nearly 10 years and I personally have been in the mortgage and real estate field for nearly 14 years. I specialize in Downtown, City of Austin, North Austin, and Lakeway properties at all price points and would be happy to assist you with your home search and with any questions you may have.

There are many great properties currently on the market and many neighborhoods to choose from. Call me today so that we can get started.

E.J. McKinney
Keller Williams Realty- Gregg's Team
512-587-7736
ejmckinney@austin.rr.com
http://www.ejmckinney.net
Web Reference:  http://www.ejmckinney.net
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