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Pelican Builder’s West Main Commons is available for immediate occupancy.

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With construction nearly complete, there are six homeowners calling West Main Commons home today. All homeowners will enjoy living in this gated community in Houston’s conveniently located Upper Kirby/Highland Village area. The remaining six homes are a unique opportunity to purchase “inside the loop” for well under $800,000. These 3-bedroom homes range in size from 2,306 to 2,616 square feet and in price from $689,900 to $745,000. With these homes nearly sold out, the builder is offering full appliance packages as well as a $10,000 elevator package.

 

METRO Rail Expansion Makes Houston High-Rises More Attractive

The Houston METRO comprehensive light rail plan will play a crucial role bringing life to the city.  It will provide smarter, more energy-efficient ways of transportation in the form of five new rail lines.  There are many ways in which the METRO rail will benefit Houston, and its residents.

Saves Money

The American Public Transportation Association recently released “The Transit Savings Report”, which stated that public transportation users can save an average of $764 per month, or about $9,167 annually.  This alone is a great reason to take advantage of the Houston METRO Rail.

 

Protects the Environment

Did you know that cars account for roughly 50 percent of air pollution nationwide?  Public transit vehicles emit fewer pollutants than single-passenger cars.  In addition, public transportation helps reduce dependence on foreign oil, which also reduces the use of auto fuel by 1.5 billion gallons annually.

 

Improves Livability

One way that public transportation improves livability is by enabling people to travel conveniently without using a car.  Public transportation also creates corridors that become focal points for social activities.  These activities help create strong neighborhood centers that are not only more economically stable, but also safe and productive.

 

Increases Property Value

Studies have shown that properties located near public transportation systems have greater increases in value than those that don’t.  A report that was recently released by the Transit Coalition, “Dollars & Sense: The Economic Cast for Public Transportation in America,” said that every dollar taxpayers invest in public transportation generates $6 or more in economic returns.

 

Helps Communities

Americans that live in areas with public transportation save around 646 million hours in travel time and 398 million gallons of fuel annually, just through reduced traffic congestion.  Without public transportation, congestion costs would have amounted to an additional $13.7 billion.

 

The Houston METRO rail will provide great new opportunities for residents and businesses alike.  It will also help to reduce traffic congestion, reduce greenhouse emissions and improve the quality of air.

Austin High Rises: In The Center of it All

There are some great events happening throughout the month of September in downtown Austin.  Many of these events are surrounding by some of Austin’s most beautiful high rise buildings.

Tri-Rock Austin Triathlon – 9/1

The heart of downtown Austin is the setting for this great event.  Your swim will start at the Stevie Ray Vaughn statue, and continue through Lady Bird Lake where you will then take a bike ride over the Congress Street Bridge, and finish with a run along the Auditorium Shores running path.  A few high rises that you will see during this event include One Congress Plaza, One American Center, and Frost Bank Tower.  For more information, please click here: http://trirock.competitor.com/

 

Fantastic Fest – 9/18 – 9/25

This is the largest genre film festival in the U.S., specializing in horror, fantasy, sci-fi, action, and just plain great movies from all around the word.  Each year, this event is held at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, TX.  This venue has been named the best cinema in America by Entertainment Weekly. Past years guests have included such talent as Mel Gibson, Bill Murray, Paul Rudd, and Kevin Smith.  You can learn more by visiting their website: http://fantasticfest.com/

 

Austin Museum Day – 9/21

This great event is organized by the Austin Museum Partnership, and features free exhibits and activities at participating Austin-area museums and cultural sites.  These exhibits represent more than 25 Austin cultural institutions!  More information can be found on their website: http://www.austinmuseums.org/museumday/

 

The Old Pecan Street Festival – 9/27 – 9/28

The Pecan Street Festival is a FREE two day, bi-annual juried arts and crafts festival held on historic 6th Street in Austin, TX.  Here you will find over 275 artisan vendors from all over the world who proudly display and sell homemade arts and crafts.  This festival earned fifth place in an Austin Business Journal tally of the city’s largest festivals.  High rises that you will find in this area of Austin include the Driskill Hotel, the Scarbrough Building, and the Littlefield Building.  To learn more about this great event, please click here: http://www.oldpecanstreetfestival.com/

 

If you live in Austin, there are many great activities happening during the month of September.  These events take place in the heart of downtown Austin, where you will find many beautiful high rise buildings.

Retiring in Texas

When it comes time to retire, have you ever thought about settling down in Texas?  A few great reasons to do so include a low cost of living, no state income tax, and beautiful scenery.

Texas is often referred to as the most popular state for retirees, which is why there are so many great retirement communities in the area.  You will find that there is plenty of space, warm weather, exciting cities, charming small towns, and many active adult communities.  There are also nine hospitals in Texas that have very strong national rankings, and 42 smaller hospitals that also have strong performance rankings statewide.  Texas is a great retirement option because the fastest growing segment is the 65 plus age group.

Another benefit of retiring in Texas is that there is no state income tax and a state sales tax of 6.25%.  In 2011, Texas was ranked as having the fifth lowest total tax burden of all 50 states by the Tax Foundation.  The Texas Legislature also reduced certain property taxes.  If you’re a homeowner, you will get an additional $10,000 off the assessed value of your home, in addition to the regular $15,000 homestead exemption, which is exempt from school taxes.

Even with all the beautiful and historic surroundings, housing in Texas is still quite affordable.   According to 2013 statistics at www.zillow.com, the median listing price for a home in Texas was around $189,000.  However, there are more expensive areas such as Austin, Dallas, and Houston.  Despite this, most home prices are low, which gives seniors the opportunity to either save more, or spend a little more on a larger home.   When you look at the cost of living on a nationwide scale, it is ranked at 100.  The cost of living in Texas is ranked at 88.7.  When you take this into consideration, along with low taxes and housing prices, Texas looks like a very affordable option.

With its low cost of living, low taxes, mild weather, and a unique geography that offers a little something for everyone, Texas is a great place to consider retirement.

Luxury Houston Real Estate Must Haves

Have you ever wondered what ultra-luxury buyers are looking for in their Houston property?  While the common items are expected, there are a few that you may not have thought of.

While a home media room is one must have that may come to mind, Houston luxury homebuyers are instead seeking out amenities that focus on their children.  Luxury homebuyers are looking for large garages that can accommodate their children who are in college, along with their older children that have moved out when they come to visit.  They are also looking for bedrooms with separate lofts that can be used as playrooms for younger children that live at home.  Homebuyers are also looking for homes that can accommodate their parents.

Houston homebuyers are also looking for luxury in their kitchens.  In fact, homes nowadays are getting more outdoor kitchens and patios that are being decorated with furniture to make it look like they belong inside.  Light colored Carrara marble is also becoming a popular item in kitchens.  This is a high quality white or blue-grey marble that is popular for its use in sculpture and building décor.  Also very popular is the mega-island, which is extra-long and wide to provide space for cooking and socializing.

Luxury homebuyers are often buying property with incredible views or a beautiful landscape, and they want to capitalize on that with oversize or floor-to-ceiling windows. Larger windows also let in a lot of natural light and can make rooms feel bigger.  Nothing feels bigger than walking into a home and having a panoramic view of a garden.

If you think a home theater may seem extravagant, you may be surprised to hear that it is just as common to a luxury home as the dining room is. Homeowners usually keep it stocked with a popcorn machine, candy, and all their favorite movies.  This is a great place to spend time with the family, and for entertaining.

Home elevators are becoming a more sought out amenity in today’s luxury homes.  What’s more luxurious than stepping off an elevator right into your own foyer?  As the baby boomer population gets older they are realizing that climbing stairs may not be easy in 20 or 30 years.  Home builders are actually starting to line up closets with proper dimensions so they can be converted to an elevator shaft as the homeowners grow older.

When it comes to luxury real estate, the list of wants has changed, and new design trends are emerging in the market.  When an average person hears elevator or movie theater, they probably think of a mall, but for ultra-luxury buyers, these are must haves for a home.

Austin Real Estate Appreciation

Over time, the value of a home will rise and fall.  In most cases, however, home values appreciate in the long term.  It is important to remember that with real estate, there is always a certain amount of risk.  Let’s take a closer look at real estate appreciation in Austin, TX.

2000 was a great year for Austin, as the annual appreciation rate was about 12.50%.  Shortly thereafter, the Dot.com bust occurred, and disaster struck.  In 2001 the rate dropped to 9.44%, and dropped even further to 1.54% in 2002.  A low point came in 2003 when rates dropped to a shocking -0.29%.  The rate then slowly rose to 1.02% in 2004.

Good news came in 2005 when the appreciation rate climbed back up to 4.90%.  In 2006 it rose to 8.19%, and in 2007 rates reached 9.34%.  Unfortunately in mid-2007 a serious financial crisis occurred, and the appreciation rate began to fall.  In 2008, rates went back down to 4.81%, and in 2009 they plummeted to 0.01%.  While the years between 2009 – 2014 saw a downturn (the Great Recession), the rates eventually returned to normal.  The average growth during this period was 3.4%.

If Austin had not experienced the Dot.com and Great Recession downturns, and maintained a 6% appreciation since 2000, the median price today would be about $326,388. It is actually at a more affordable price of $230,000.  With inventory at an all-time low, homebuyers are finding themselves competing for homes, and offering more than the list price.  Once inventory becomes low and demand rises, appreciation rates will rise.  Mark Sprague, State Director of Information Capital of Austin, was quoted as saying “Appreciation in Austin ranges between 5%-9% during growth periods.  We think that 9% appreciation is predictable for 2014 and 2015.  At least 6% appreciation for the following three years is likely.”

While appreciation rates in Austin have fluctuated over the past 14 years, they are expected to rise in the next three to five.  Prices will move up once demand exceeds supply.

 

Source:

Heji, Roselind. “Austin Appreciation – A Long View.”  http://austintexasrealestateblog.blogspot.com/.  29 May 2014.

Luxury Caribbean Real Estate: Old World Charm, New World Luxury

Did you know that Roatán, one of the Bay Islands in the Western Caribbean, received a spot on Kiplinger magazine’s “8 Great Places to Retire Abroad”?  This is due to its lush mountain terrain, white sandy beaches and clear Caribbean waters.  Located on this beautiful island is Pristine Bay, which is known as “Roatán’s only Five-Star Resort Community.”

About Pristine Bay

A trip to Pristine Bay consists of a simple non-stop flight from a few select North American cities.  Once you have arrived, it is just a short 20-minute drive from the Roatán International Airport.  The resort is located on a 400+ acre site adjacent to the Caribbean Sea.  At Pristine Bay, you’ll find a wide variety of luxury residences and luxurious villas with clear views of the ocean.  Whether you are an owner, member, or guest, you will have access to many great amenities including the Beach Club and all its restaurants, private beach, tennis courts, spa services and much more.

Community

Once you are there, you’ll find that the Caribbean community has a little something for everyone.  For those who like to golf, the Black Pear Golf Course is the place to be.  This is the latest masterpiece of designer Pete Dye, and is located on a 405-acre luxury golf resort and development.  If you’ve always wanted to go diving, Black Pearl Divers full-service dive and aquatic center is located right on-site, and will make all of the necessary arrangements for a day trip.  You also have the option of doing nothing and relaxing all day at your private white sandy beach.  Many people have said that Pristine Bay is exclusive, extraordinary and charming.

Owning Property on Pristine Bay

Much more than a resort, Pristine Bay is a collection of stunning homes that include large residences and quaint villas.  All of these properties feature spacious terraces and private infinity edge pools.  This 400-acre oceanfront community has three distinct ownership opportunities to choose from including the Las Verandas Collection, The Cove Collection, and the Fairway Collection.  Each has their own unique features that make them a great place to live.  In addition, Roatán was recently named as one of the “Top 3 islands to live on” and one of the “Top 5 islands to retire on.”

Pristine Bay is a luxurious destination resort and private home community that offers a wide array of choices to anyone who’s ever dreamed of owning a home with a clear view of the Caribbean.  For more information about owning property, please click here http://www.ownpristinebay.com/

Real Estate Investments for Retirement

Have you ever thought about investing in real estate for retirement?  While investing in real estate does require a lot of liquid cash, the returns are known to be much better than any other investment.

One of the quickest ways to make money in the real estate market is by real estate trading.  With this method, traders buy properties from owners with the idea of holding onto them temporarily and selling them for a better profit at a later time.  This is also known as “flipping properties”, and those who do this will usually purchase properties that are highly undervalued.  In most cases, traders will purchase cheaper properties and try to increase their value by doing renovations and repairs.  These renovations can actually result in a huge profit for the trader.

The majority of people believe that the money saved through their 401 (k) is just for retirement.  While this is true in most cases, some investors have figured out different ways to invest in real estate without disrupting the money they have saved for retirement.  Those with a 401 (k) account are allowed to take out a loan against their account.  They money that comes from the loan can then be used to buy real estate.  It is important to remember however, that there is a cap on the amount that can be borrowed.  This amount is normally $50,000, but it can be less depending on the amount of money in your 401 (k) account.

When it comes to investing in real estate, one of the easiest ways to do so is by putting your money in a Real Estate Investment Fund (REIT’s).  This type of account is created when an investor’s money is used by a corporation to buy and operate properties.  When the time comes, the corporation must pay out 90% of all its taxable profits in the form of dividends to all its investors.  By paying the dividends, the REIT does not have to pay corporate income tax.  This is a great choice for people who’d like to earn regular income.

If you have a vacation home, renting it out can also be another source of retirement income.  One advantage is, unlike bond income, rental income has the potential to increase as time goes on.  There is also the potential for capital appreciation, which means that your property’s value could go up. While there are no guarantees for any property in particular, the long-term appreciation rate for residential real estate has been about 3.4%.  This was measured by the Case-Shiller index, which has measured the sales price of existing homes from 1987 until now.

Investing in real estate takes knowledge, skill, and intuition.  If you have all of these things, and you do it right, real estate can be a great way to save for retirement.

Houston High-Rise Boom

The city of Houston is currently in the midst of a high-rise boom. Houston’s mayor, Annise Parker, recently stated that there are at least four high-rise projects under construction or in the planning for downtown Houston.  She also said that there are around 100 projects in the works across the city of Houston with a total of $7.5 billion in investments.

In 2013, Houston was ranked third in Texas in terms of economic growth.  In June of last year, Houston had already logged $4.8 billion in new construction, which was an 8% increase over 2012.  The city’s largest projects were mainly based around healthcare and housing.  This includes the $72 million MD Anderson Pavilion, which began in May 2013 and the $45 million Hanover Post Oak rental high rise that began in April of 2013.  With all this new development, the city’s new promotional slogan is, “Houston: The City With No Limits.”

Uptown Park, a European-style shopping center located on Post Oak Boulevard, is scheduled to receive a $1.2 billion transformation into a denser urban development that could include many high-rise residential towers, a hotel, office buildings, and more retail space.  The president of the Uptown Houston District, John Breeding, has said that all of the one-story retail buildings and small apartment complexes will be torn down and replaced with high-rise developments that will make maximum use of the underlying land.  In 2013, two office towers opened up in Uptown, and more office space is currently under construction along with several high-rise residential towers.  The Uptown area has over 23 million square feet of office space, 7,000 hotel room, 1,000 stores, and is bigger than the downtowns in many cities in America.

There is no doubt that Houston is experiencing a boom in its economy.  As a result, there have been several high-rise buildings constructed, with more planned for the future.  The city ranked #3 in economic growth in 2013, and they hope to be high on the list again this year.

 

Source:

Brown, Steven. “Boomtowns Houston, Dallas don’t have much reason to fight anymore.”  Dallas News.  13 June 2014.

Benefits of Condo Living

If you are a first time homebuyer who will be living independently, a condo may be a good choice for you.  A condo may also be ideal for those who are looking to downsize and don’t have the time or desire to manage the maintenance that comes with owning a single family home.  No matter which category you fall into, there are many advantages to condo living.

Convenience

Whether you are a first time homebuyer, or have a family and are looking to downsize, you will notice that condos tend to have lower prices and are more affordable.  Condo owners also enjoy the same tax benefits as owners of single-family homes.  You can rest assured knowing that the condominium association is responsible for all of the exterior maintenance. Other things like gardening, snow removal, and repairs are all covered by your monthly condo fees.  Condos are also often times conveniently located near office buildings, shopping and entertainment.  By sacrificing a small amount of square footage in exchange for convenience, you will be able to spend your time doing the things you love to do.

Amenities

Many condos offer great amenities that include:

  • Swimming Pool
  • Fitness Center
  • Theatre Rooms
  • Party Rooms
  • Tennis Courts

 

Security

Another perk of living in a condo is the advanced security measures.  Most buildings offer 24/hour concierge service, on site security, and secured entrances.  This is great for someone who travels a lot or goes on vacation for extended periods of time.  You will have the peace of mind knowing that you home is safe while you are gone.

There are many people who believe that owning a condo is much easier that owning a single family home.  Advantages to condo living include amenities, convenience, and security.  If you are single or looking to downsize, a condo may be a great choice for you.