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Zillow reveals how fast home values are rising in hot Austin market

Hot Homes

The spring selling season is underway, and those looking to purchase a home in Austin should expect to pay a premium — regardless of price point — Zillow says.

A new study from the real estate authority shows that the annual appreciation of Austin-area home values at all price tiers was at least 14 percent in February 2021, with price increases fueled by consistently high demand.

The lowest tier of home values in the Austin-Round Rock metro area grew 14 percent year-over-year, to a typical home price of $287,025, Zillow says. But that jump was eclipsed by home values in the middle tier, up 14.5 percent to $408,106, and home values in the top tier, which grew the most, 14.9 percent to $666,034.

In fact, Austin's top-tier home values have grown faster than low-tier home values every month since March 2020, Zillow says, "a reversal of the overriding trend in most other markets." (That's unsurprising, perhaps, to those following local real estate, as Austin's median home price continues to inch closer to $500,000.)

"Austin stands out as the lone metro among the largest 50 U.S. metros that saw the most expensive tier of homes appreciate faster than the lowest tier over the course of the year, although the low tier is catching up," Zillow says. "Extreme demand fueled massive appreciation in Austin over the course of 2020 and a panel of economists and real estate experts surveyed by Zillow expect Austin to be the hottest metro in 2021."

Zillow's study shows that, in most major metro areas, "homes in the entry-level segment of the market most likely to be sought by first-time and/or lower-income home buyers have also grown the most in value over the past year. And in many areas, the gap in appreciation rates between the most- and least-affordable homes is widening, evidence of the intense competition between buyers on a budget."

In Texas' other top metros, the most affordable tier is growing at a faster clip than the priciest, but not by much.

  • In the San Antonio metro, the lowest tier appreciated at a rate of 7.9 percent, to a typical home value of $153,904, compared to 7.3 percent for the top tier.
  • In Dallas-Fort Worth, the annual appreciation for the lowest tier was 9.5 percent, up to $194,484, compared to 8.6 percent growth in the top tier.
  • In the Houston metro area, the lowest tier saw a 9.3 percent increase, to $166,556, compared to a 7.4 percent increase for the top tier.

These figures indicate that, in markets like Dallas and San Antonio, demand "is largely uniform across segments," Zillow says, "and spreads between appreciation rates are tightening."

Whether you're in the market right now or planning to house hunt in the future, don't expect things to slow down. Looking ahead, Zillow expects the typical home value in each of the metros mentioned to grow by at least 10 percent by next February. In Austin, Zillow predicts a 10.6 percent jump, and in DFW, a 12.6 percent increase.

Courtesy photo

Austin stars as top attraction for residents leaving these California cities

Home is where you hang your cowboy hat

Los Angeles’ population losses were Austin’s and Dallas-Fort Worth’s gains in 2020.

A new report from residential real estate platform Zillow puts Austin at No. 3 and DFW at No. 4 among the five U.S. metro areas that saw the most inbound moves in 2020. For Austin and DFW, the Los Angeles metro area topped the list of places sending the most new arrivals, the Zillow report says.

Here are the top five metros for inbound moves last year:

  1. Phoenix
  2. Charlotte, North Carolina
  3. Austin
  4. Dallas-Fort Worth
  5. Sarasota, Florida

The ranking is based on SIRVA/North American Van Lines data for moves in the first 11 months of 2020.

Zillow expects the population influx in Phoenix, Charlotte, and Austin to continue in 2021 as people in higher-cost markets seek lower-cost housing elsewhere.

The metro area that experienced the most departures last year was New York City, followed by L.A., San Francisco, and Chicago, according to Zillow.

After L.A., two other California metros — San Jose and San Francisco — accounted for the most new arrivals last year in Austin, the Zillow report shows. Aside from L.A., last year’s top sources of new residents in DFW were the New York City and Chicago metros.

Zillow refers to this population shift as the “Great Reshuffling.”

In a March survey by Zillow, 11 percent of U.S. adults indicated they had moved in the previous year — either by choice or out of necessity. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 9.8 percent of Americans moved in 2019.

“The pandemic brought an acceleration of trends we were seeing in 2018 and 2019,” Jeff Tucker, senior economist at Zillow, says in an April 6 news release. “More affordable, medium-sized metro areas across the Sun Belt saw significantly more people coming than going, especially from more expensive, larger cities farther north and on the coasts. The pandemic has catalyzed purchases by millennial first-time buyers, many of whom can now work from anywhere.”

In a typical year, other cities in Texas represent the most inbound moves for Austin and DFW. The Zillow report doesn’t reflect these relocations, in large part because many in-state movers don’t hire moving companies like North American Van Lines.

Photo by Paul Bradbury/Getty

New Zillow study shows that Austin homes are selling in under 2 weeks

Red-Hot Real Estate

Have the stay-at-home orders convinced you it's time to buy a house, or upgrade to a bigger one? You're not alone — a new report from Zillow shows that Austin homes are flying off the market at their fastest pace in more than two years.

For the week ending June 13, it only took a median of 12 days for an Austin-area home to go from "available" to "pending." That's three fewer days than the same time last year, as well as three fewer from the same week in May. To show just how quickly the market is moving, it's even one day less than the week before (ending June 6).

Inventory is still low thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, with buyers in May finding themselves competing over the smallest pool of inventory on record for that month in years. But as "the new normal" begins to take hold, it seems that buyers are now eager to make up for lost time with speedy offers.

Like it usually is, Austin is ahead of the curve when it comes to red-hot real estate.

In mid-June, the typical home sold in the U.S. had an offer accepted 22 days after it was listed. That's as fast as homes have sold since early June 2018, when they typically sold in 21 days. Even at the slowest point of the spring — in late May — that national number only climbed to 31 days, just six days slower than late May last year.

"Buyers shopping today might expect to be welcomed by desperate sellers, but they'll instead discover houses selling like hotcakes in the speediest market in recent memory," says Zillow economist Jeff Tucker. "The market did slow down in April, but anyone shopping this summer needs to be prepared to keep up with the lightning-quick pace of sales today.

"The question is whether the tempo will slow after buyers finish playing catch-up from planned spring moves, or if this fast-paced market will stay hot thanks to continued low interest rates and buyers scrambling over record-low summer inventory."

Things aren't quite as desperate elsewhere in Texas, but home sales are still moving relatively quickly around the Lone Star State.

In San Antonio, it took a median 32 days for listings to move to pending. That's down two days from last year, down four days from last month, and no change from the week before.

Homes are moving within 28 days in Dallas-Fort Worth, a change of one day from 2019, six days from May, and two days from the previous week.

Houston homes are only available for 26 days — three days fewer than last year, nine days fewer from last month, and four days fewer than even the week ending June 6.

Homes are selling the fastest — in only five days — in Columbus, Ohio. Cincinnati, Ohio (six days); Kansas City, Missouri (six days); Seattle (seven days), and Indianapolis (seven days) are just behind. Pittsburgh has seen the most dramatic acceleration of late, with sellers typically accepting an offer 17 days sooner than at this time last year and 40 days sooner than a month ago.

The slowest market by some margin is New York, where homes are typically spending 70 days on the market before an offer is accepted, more than three weeks longer than at this time last year. Miami (55 days) and Atlanta (38 days) are the next slowest.

Zillow points out that more homes are coming onto the market — new listings are up 14 percent nationally month-over-month — showing that sellers appear to be gaining confidence in buyer demand. Inventory remains incredibly tight and sales are happening quickly, so buyers should be prepared to move fast when they find a home they're interested in.

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H-E-B unveils merch for super fans, plus more hot Austin headlines

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. H-E-B unveils merchandise for brand super fans, available exclusively at one store. Kerrville was chosen to launch the company's new line of H-E-B-branded merchandise in celebration of its 117th anniversary.

2. Austin bar transforms into a magical winter wonderland this holiday season. Don your favorite elf socks and meet the lovely citizens of “Tinseltown.”

3. Draft 'Vision Plan' for Zilker Park unveils land bridge and more possibilities. Austinites are invited to comment on a vision plan that will inform the future of Zilker Park.

4. Austin ranks among world’s 100 best cities in prestigious new report. Austin is the No. 43 best city in the world, according to a new study. (And yes, we beat Dallas.)

5. Austin airport launches new SkySquad travel assistants in time for the holiday rush. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is keeping lines moving during a period of heavy travel with a new team of airport assistants.

Steven Spielberg opens up personal history in The Fabelmans

Movie Review

For over 40 years, director Steven Spielberg has been delivering some of the most popular blockbuster movies of all time as well as a bevy of Oscar-quality dramas, a combination that’s unique to him. For his latest, The Fabelmans, he’s decided to go more personal than ever, telling a thinly-veiled version of his own childhood.

Sammy (played mostly by Gabriel LaBelle) is one of four children – and the only son – of Mitzi (Michelle Williams), a concert pianist, and Burt Fabelman (Paul Dano), a computer engineer. From an early age, Sammy is enthralled by the art of filmmaking, first remaking a train crash sequence from The Greatest Show on Earth, and gradually moving on to more adventurous stories.

Burt’s advancing career, which moves the family from New Jersey to Arizona to California, causes stress for various members of the family, most notably Sammy and Mitzi. Sammy must deal with anti-Semitic bullies, while Mitzi falls deeper into a mental health crisis. Sammy’s movies continually offer a respite for the family, though, giving him a creative outlet and the rest of them a chance to forget their troubles for a while.

Written by Spielberg – his first writing effort since 2001’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence – and Tony Kushner, the film is heavy on emotions but presented in a way that those feelings don’t always translate. Spielberg is no stranger to depicting fraught family situations in his long career, but in showing ones from his own family, it feels like he pulled back, not wanting the scenes to be overwrought or schmaltzy.

The result is a story that isn’t as universal as some of his other films. As the film is told from Sammy’s perspective, it’s easy to get caught up in his pursuits and various discoveries as he gets older. The mindsets of the rest of the family are less clear, even though his parents and sisters are ever-present. Mitzi’s state of mind is a concern from the start, but it’s not always treated as such by other important characters.

Just as Sammy’s movies are an escape for his family, so too are they some of the best parts of the film. Sammy figuring out the process and secrets of filmmaking is informative and often thrilling, especially if you’re a cinephile. Spielberg has been considered a master for so long that watching him revisit the days when he was learning as he went is catnip for movie lovers.

In addition to being a dead ringer for a teenage Spielberg, LaBelle is a fantastic actor. It’s no easy feat to carry a movie on your shoulders, and LaBelle makes the assignment look easy. Williams’ performance will likely be more polarizing; she employs a very mannered speech pattern that works in some situations, but not all. The film also includes memorable short appearances by Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, and David Lynch.

Spielberg has provided the moviegoing public with such pleasure over the years that he deserves to have a movie that’s mostly for him. The initial viewing of The Fabelmans left this critic wanting, but perhaps it will gain more traction on a second screening.

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The Fabelmans is now playing in theaters.

Photo by Merie Weismuller Wallace/Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment

Gabriel LaBelle in The Fabelmans

Texas billionaire Tilman Fertitta acquires award-winning California resort

tilman goes laguna

Fans of Tilman Fertitta's nationwide hospitality brands are in for a treat. The Billion Dollar Buyer has just secured an award-winning, 30-acre resort in sunny Southern California.

Fertitta has purchased the acclaimed Montage Laguna Beach Resort Hotel, a premier beachfront property in the sunny SoCal getaway destination. Notably, the Montage Laguna Beach Resort Hotel is one of only six hotels in the U.S. to score the Forbes Triple Five-Star hotel status. The Montage has also been included among Travel + Leisure’s Top Hotels in the World.

Image courtesy of Montage Laguna Beach

Fertitta's newest purchase overlooks the ocean in Laguna Beach.

“I am truly thrilled to acquire this world-renowned property and add one of America’s most iconic trophy resorts to our luxury hotel portfolio,” Fertitta noted in a statement. “I have been traveling to Laguna Beach for over 30 years. It is one of my favorite places to visit and one of the most beautiful areas in the world. The Montage is a stunning oceanfront property and one of the premier hotel brands in the world.”

Press materials didn't list the property purchase price, but Law360 reports that the deal is in excess of $660 million.

The Craftsman-style resort sits on a coastal bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Impressive amenities are highlighted by the 20,000-square-foot Spa Montage, which offers eucalyptus steam rooms, dry redwood saunas, ocean air whirlpools, fireplace lounges, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a movement studio, and a lap pool.

More outdoor fun includes two pools and direct beach access, a museum-quality fine art collection, and more than 20,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, per press materials.

Every resident space — the 260 guestrooms, including 60 suites, beach bungalow-style rooms, and multi-bedroom villas — boast stunning views of the Pacific.

Dining destinations offer chef-driven interpretations of coastal California flavors inspired by region. The property is designated and included in the distinctive Legend Collection of Preferred Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

“We are thrilled that Tilman is the new owner of this one-of-a-kind property and welcome him into the Montage family,” said Alan Fuerstman, founder, CEO, and chairman of Montage International. Mary Rogers, the Montage's GM added, “The staff is thrilled to be working with Tilman. Everyone here at the property is tremendously excited about his purchase and look forward to continuing to provide a world-class experience to all of our guests."

Aside from his palatial Post Oak Hotel in Houston, Fertitta also owns 14 other hotel properties around the country, including the award-winning San Luis Resort in Galveston, plus five popular Golden Nugget casino and hotel locations.

Another feather in Fertitta’s luxury portfolio cap is the iconic Huntting Inn, one of the most charming and historic locales in East Hampton, New York.

No stranger to California, Fertitta's presence there includes Catch Seafood and Catch Steak, Mastro’s Ocean Club and Mastro’s Steakhouse, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, The Palm, and more — all part of his 60 brands and more than 600 concepts nationwide.