Texas is on fire, hundreds of homes are gone
While you’ve all heard that Texas, most specifically Austin is experiencing its worst wildfires in history during one of the state’s worst droughts in history, many are now asking what is next, now that some areas are allowing homeowners to return to their houses? Where does everyone go while they wait on FEMA and insurance to get sorted out? Some people have family to stay with, and many of us (AGBeat is headquartered in Austin) have full houses, there are families who are new to the area or simply have nowhere to stay. Texas is notoriously a friendly state, and many are opening their doors to the fire victims.
The Austin Board of Realtors has sent out an emergency bulletin to its members detailing what homeowners need to do right away and asking any Realtors who are aware of property owners offering free or substantially discounted properties to fire evacuees to enter “TXFIRE” in the Agent Remarks field of the MLS listing to make them easier to identify. The Board’s search portal AustinHomeSearch.com does not allow consumers to search Agent Remarks, so locals in search of temporary shelter can connect with a local Realtor for immediate results, or, we are told the listings with “TXFIRE” in the remarks will appear on AustinHomeSearch.com but we have not confirmed whether these will be automated and immediate or not.
Another option for the evacuees to find shelter is via HomeAway, the vacation rental site which has set up a special page outlining free to extremely discounted listings in the central Texas area that they are updating frequently.
Other relief efforts
Disaster relief efforts are being led in Central Texas by the Red Cross and we encourage anyone capable of giving to donate. Additionally, the Austin Board of Realtors has notified us that several initiatives have been started by local Realtors:
- Bartlett Real Estate Group, Keller Williams: The clothing collection drop-off point is a storage facility behind the Bartlett Real Estate Group office located at 6816 FM 620 N, next to the Boat House Grill. Clothing bins will be labeled by size and gender. Volunteers will be there all day on September 7 accepting all donations. For more information, contact Stacy Rider at 512-423-8122.
- The GoodLife Team: The GoodLife Team is accepting bottled water, sports drinks, canned food and clean clothing. Donations are accepted 8:30 a.m. -6:30 p.m. at 1114 E. Cesar Chavez. For more information, call 512-892-9473.
- Urbanspace: Urbanspace is accepting bottled water, canned goods, toiletries, etc. at 801 W. 5th St., Suite 100.
- Coldwell Banker United, REALTORS®: The Coldwell Banker Lake Travis office is collecting donations at 907 RR 620 S, on the second floor of the building. They have offered to pick up donations, as well. For more information, call Lisa Jacobson at 512-983-0040.
- The Carvajal Group: Donations of toiletries, baby items, pet food, bedding and more are being accepted by The Carvajal Group at 2217 Hancock Dr. Contact Eric Carvajal at 512-786-1515 with any questions.
- Stanberry & Associates: Stanberry Bastrop is collecting donations at 111 Hasler, across the street from the HEB in Bastrop. They will also accept donations at Stanberry office locations in Westlake, Dripping Springs and Cedar Park. Suggested donations include gift cards, non-perishable food, clothing, pet food, diapers and toiletries.
Lastly, we would like to note the tremendous efforts by PetRelocation.com who has quietly help displaced ranchers across Central Texas by coordinating shelter and transportation at no fee, and have noted in detail how to help displaced pets.
Note from the Editor:
We would like to thank the real estate community for coming out so strongly in support of the fire victims. Years ago, we lost our family home to fire, weeks before my high school graduation. It is life changing to see an obscure pile of gray rubble that resembles what could have been your bedroom or kitchen, but was transformed into a tiny pile with everything else you owned becoming a smoke plume as photographed above. There is this sinking, helpless feeling when your family home disappears, and when your father has scars left from burns all over his arms from holding the garden hose until it literally melted in his hands as he waited for the fire department to eventually arrive (albeit too late). We at AGBeat are working to help local evacuees and we hope that you will find a way to assist as well, because that sinking, helpless feeling is only assuaged by the kindness of others, as it is hard to convince someone who just lost everything that it could ever be okay or normal again.
Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home
When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?
Looking at the bigger picture
(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).
That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).
They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.
“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”
Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?
With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.
The average home age is higher than ever
(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.
With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.
Prices of new homes on the rise
Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.
Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?
The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.
Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes
(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.
Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.
So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.
1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues
It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.
Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.
2. Two major media brands emerge
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