An article in yesterday’s New York Times analyzed downtown Austin as a second home location. The enthusiastic article shed light on an important trend in the downtown market: the popularity of downtown condos with out-of-town buyers looking for a weekend getaway. We have heard first-hand from many developers that affluent Houston and Dallas residents, especially this with children attending UT, have been active buyers in the downtown Austin condo market.
The New York Times also indicated that buyers are increasingly able to negotiate with developers and condo owners for price reductions and free upgrades. In this tough market, where too few buyers can get decent loans, developers are increasingly eager to cut deals with prospective buyers.
Here is the full article from the New York Times:
MORE than 200 live music sites, weather with annual temperature averages in the 70s, and thoughtful urban planning make downtown Austin an appealing second-home location.
Beginning in the 1990s, city planners decided to model its urban core on the downtown in Vancouver, British Columbia. The result is an area of high-density housing; vertical mixed-use building; plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars; and pedestrian-friendly public spaces that include biking and hiking trails around Lady Bird Lake (formerly Town Lake).
Buyers of second-home downtown condominiums come from larger cities like Boston, New York, Dallas, Houston and San Francisco. Some choose the area based on their experiences there while attending the University of Texas. Others, like young technology professionals, come to the city while on business, then choose to purchase small units for use on weekends or vacations.
Retirees and those who are about to retire are often attracted by the area’s amenities, real estate agents said. Another group of buyers are people who don’t want to be dependent on cars.
Eric Winkler, owner of E. J. Winkler Realty Company in Austin, said the supply of new construction condominiums now exceeds the demand. “Prices are negotiable,” he said. “I’ve seen $90,000 come off a $490,000 list price.”
Buyers at the Plaza Lofts at Republic Square Park can find one-bedroom units listing for about $329,000. Cory Culpepper, an agent at van Heuven Properties, said that the price is about $100,000 less than a year ago.
Dave van Heuven, owner of van Heuven Properties, said that changes in lending practices, not an excess of building, account for a trend in pricing. “If you look at the 43-story 360 Condominiums, all 432-plus units were sold out, most of them preconstruction,” he said. “Now some of these same units are being offered again because of financing that didn’t go through.”
At the low end, listings range from about $250,000 to $450,000 for an 800-square-foot unit in a new building. At the high end, prices range from about $750,000 to $1 million, with penthouses in luxury buildings listing for up to two-thirds more.
Overlooking Republic Square Park, this 12th-floor, 2,900-square-foot penthouse condominium is in a six-year-old building called the Plaza Lofts at Republic Square Park. A staircase inside the unit leads to a private rooftop terrace providing more than 600 square feet of outdoor space. The living area includes floor-to-ceiling windows, custom-made wood cabinets, polished and stained concrete floors and 13-foot-high ceilings. Electronic solar shades cover the windows, and the heating and cooling systems are zoned and computer-controlled. Glass inserts in interior walls allow natural light to pass through. The master suite is 900 square feet, and there are two and a half bathrooms. The building’s amenities include concierge service, a rooftop pool and a fitness center. Fees: $1,040 monthly. Taxes: $21,869. Listing agent: Kumara Wilcoxon, van Heuven Properties, (512) 480-8944; www.downtownaustinliving.com.
Ten-foot floor-to-ceiling windows and a 64-square-foot balcony face west from this condominium with a view of Lady Bird Lake. It has 812 square feet of living space, which includes oak hardwood floors, granite countertops in both the kitchen and the single bathroom and an area for a stackable washer and dryer. Stainless steel appliances are included. The building provides wireless Internet service in all common areas. Other shared amenities include a ninth-floor activity deck with a lap pool, an outdoor living room with a fireplace, a catering kitchen, a movie theater, a fitness center and 24-hour concierge service. Fees: $247 monthly. Taxes: $5,590. Broker: Taylor Andrews, Andrews Urban LLC, (512) 477-0360; www.lifesurroundsyou.com.