Tahitian Village in Bastrop Texas – Lost Pines – Real Estate Report 2009 to 2010

Lost Pines and Tahitian Village – Homes Amidst the Trees

A log cabin in Tahitian Village in Bastrop TexasGorgeous red dirt in Bastrop County TexasLost Pines comprises over 6000 acres of the Loblolly Pine forest in Bastrop County, Texas. This area has resorts, hotels and a lot of Texas flavor – including down home Texas-style BBQ and is worth a weekend – or longer – visit.

Many people that aren’t content to merely visit this area of Texas, located Southeast of the Austin metropolitan area, own homes in the Tahitian Village subdivision. Tahitian Village is located a little Southeast of the old downtown Historic District of the City of Bastrop. The streets in Tahitian Village have names like Kaanapali Lane, Onini Court and Kulua Court and are lined with towering pine trees that provide shade from the blistering Texas heat in the summer and because they are evergreen, add much-needed color in the winter.

Homes in Tahitian Village are on septic systems. In some areas, more than one lot was required to provide suitable soil for the septic, and in others a single lot was sufficient. Two of the photos in the gallery that follow show samples of soil found in this area. Unfortunately, I like my dirt in photos and not on my hands so I can’t tell you what the relevant characteristics are but because of the need for septic in this area, you should educate yourself on septic-related topics if you are planning to buy in any area that isn’t on a city sewer.

Homes in in this area range from over 30 years old to brand new.

Real Estate Sales Data for 2009 and 2010 for Tahitian Village

The lowest selling price in Tahitian Village for 2010 was $70,000 for a 1685 square foot home built in 2004 on .43 acres. The highest selling price was $284,900 for a 3180 square foot home built in 1993 situated on 1.3 acres. Unlike many other subdivisions we have written about where lot sizes tend to be fairly consistent, the large range of lot sizes in Tahitian Village add an additional level of complication when analyzing and reporting on market data for the area.

9 of the 76 homes in Tahitian Village that sold in 2010 were foreclosures. Of these 9, the median selling price was $101,200 which is well below the median selling price of $148,700 for the area for 2010.
Tahitian Village in Bastrop Texas Real Estate Market Data for 2009 and 2010

How are Median Values Determined?

When looking at the above real estate sales data for 2009 and 2010, pulled from the Austin Board of Realtors’ ACTRIS system, you might notice immediately that the numbers running across the line for Median values don’t seem to add up. The four charts that follow will hopefully explain why this is.

Charts to help explain how to find the median value of a set of numbers
The Chart #1 (Yellow) contains 11 actual records from the 2010 sales data for the Tahitian Village subdivision.
We’re going to look at these 11 records in a few different ways to find median values. The median value is the one in the middle of a sorted list, so in the examples that follow, it will be record number 6, with 5 below and 5 above. This records in Chart #1 aren’t sorted in any particular way. (Note however that there is a $32 range in the selling price per square foot of these homes, another reason why using this number is a poor way to ascertain the price of any given home in the absence of a comprehensive real estate appraisal to determine the home’s market value.)

Chart #2 (Bright Blue) shows the same transactions, sorted by size of the home. You can see that the Median Size of this set of 11 homes is 1490 square feet and that this particular home sold for $73,000 which is $49.33 per square foot.

Chart #3 (Orange) shows the same transactions, sorted by selling price of the home.
You can see that the Median Selling Price of this set of 11 homes was $101,200 square feet and that this particular home was 1348 square feet and sold for $75.07 per square foot.

Chart #4 (Pink) shows the same transactions, sorted by Selling Price per Square foot. Sorted this way, the Median Selling Price per Square Foot was $66.75 for a home that was 1618 square feet and sold for $108,000.

With this information in hand, remember that when you’re presented with a set of numbers for real estate transactions data, you need to know that the data can be sorted and reported in many different ways and that if you really want to know the trends and activity for an area, you need to get your hands on the actual data and not someone else’s summarized version.

Now that we’ve concluded that mini lesson, let’s get back to talking about Tahitian Village in Bastrop!

Photographs of the Tahitian Village Subdivision in Bastrop

Google Map of Tahitian Village


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Become a Better Photographer: The Tale of a Realtor – Part 1

The Turning Point: The Need to Become a Better Photographer

A while ago, I had an epiphany. Well, more like a fit. A big one. We dragged our kids out for an entire afternoon to photograph a subdivision in Round Rock, Texas. We were in and out of the car, stopped for lunch, stopped for dinner, played at a park, all in between taking hundreds of photos of houses, streets, the golf course, trees, limestone retaining walls, hike and bike trails and so on.

When I got home, I loaded the digital photographs onto the computer and almost had a heart attack. The images were terrible. I messed up the exposure on almost every one: the white balance (color) was off, the skies were “blown” (white, no details), facades were too dark to see, all were crooked to some degree or another – every mistake that was possible to make I managed to make.

I started to “fix” the photographs using the methods I was familiar with – mostly in Photoshop.
After a few hours of making bad photos into less-bad photos, I realized I needed to admit defeat, toss the set and ask for a do-over. It was not at all the way I had expected the day’s work (and then, the night’s work) to turn out.

Hence the fit. Followed by a funk, followed by some serious contemplation.

What NOT to DO

If you’ve read THIS far, you want to see some photos, right? Here are three that show what NOT to do!

Making a Decision


We take photos of houses almost every day.

That said, were we people who take pictures of houses, or did we want to become actual photographers? You know, the kind that actually know how to use a camera on something other than “Auto”, that have a better understanding of composition and can spot the elements of a home or town that are a little more interesting, to share with others who might also find them to be interesting?

I decided on the latter: become “a photographer”.
In doing so, I realized I could do something fun, enhance our business, AND scratch some other itches at the same time, by documenting neighborhoods and small cities and towns all while building a repertoire of artistic skills that would serve other areas of our lives as well.

Orlando decided to stick with his own type of house photography, which I characterize as perfectly functional: each photo shows just what is necessary, and 99.99% are for appraisals where the photos that are included in an appraisal report are well-defined: street scene, front back, bathrooms, kitchen, main living areas.

Happy with our choices, it was time for me to get out of the funk and dig in!

It Doesn’t Happen Overnight, Sweetie: Learning Photography Basics

I spent the better part of 4 MONTHS getting a grip on the basics of photography, and that was only the beginning, the part that got me to the point where I started to get a clue and my photos gradually started to improve.

I’ll share a few resources with you now that will help you learn digital photography, in case you’ve been contemplating improving your own photographic skills. Because this is but Part 1 in what will hopefully be a many many part series, this is just your starter list.

Photography Resources

Amazon

Want some good night-time reading? Dig through the digital photography training books on Amazon.com and you’ll find a treasure trove. My favorites include anything by Scott Kelby and Bryan Peterson. Christopher Grey also has many excellent books on studio photography.

Read the reviews and you’ll find a multitude of links for other digital photography books that are worth your time.

Adobe

Adobe Software makes some amazingly powerful software for creating and processing digital images. The best of the best, and most essential of these are Adobe Photoshop CS5 and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3. The latter, Lightroom 3 (LR3) is for overall image management – keeping track of catalogs of images as well as anchoring the post-processing of images.

Photoshop CS5 (Creative Suite 5) is for image manipulation and enhancement.

Lynda.com

$25 a month may very well be the best money you ever spend if you’re looking for training videos for almost anything that has to do with the on-line world, from digital photography, to website development to the Adobe Creative Suites (CS5, CS4, CS3).

No minimum commitment, pay monthly.

The first series on Lightroom 3 (image management) includes over 12 HOURS of lessons, broken down into segments that are a 45 seconds to 5 or 6 minutes – just enough to teach you something that WILL improve your skills, without overwhelming you with too much information at a time.

This site was recommended by a Pea, a phenomenal photographer named Rachel, who with her partner Crystal run Pure Photography and Pure Photoshop Actions.

To get a strong foundation for your digital photography training, Lynda.com is THE place to start!

What is a Pea?

I re-joined a photography forum from years ago that was still going strong. Google “Two Peas in a Bucket” and navigate to the photography forum. The site is dominated by women, and much of the conversation is about photographing babies, children, families and family life.

The members range from pure beginners to seasoned pros and every time I visit I find something that was worth the time and energy, including links to very valuable on-line resources for photographers. This is a low-key, pleasant way to learn digital photography if you’re not in a hurry.

Setting a New Standard

My pix are getting better, but there is HUGE room for improvement. Check out these three recent photographs of a green redevelopment area in Austin that included homes, apartments, businesses and mixed-use buildings as well as ample open space:

Join us and Become a Better Photographer, Too!

Please come back and visit – we’ll be posting a TON of photos and articles on improving your real estate (and other) photography in the next few months, and will be trying a lot of new techniques, lenses and post-processing software to try to bring better and better images to our site, and hopefully to YOURS as well.

Downtown Round Rock: A Glance through Photographs

Downtown Round Rock: There IS such a thing

When most of us think of Round Rock, we think of new subdivisions, Dell and, well, new subdivisions. More specifically, subdivisions built since 2000, clustered on either side of I-35, North and Northeast of Austin.

According to the city’s web site (which cited the US Census Bureau), the population of greater Round Rock doubled between 1990 (30,923) and 2000 (61,136) and almost doubled again between 2000 and 2009 (105,412). With that many people flocking to this ever-growing area, it’s easy to focus on the new shopping centers and sprawling subdivisions.

Did you know that Round Rock also has a downtown, just a few streets in either direction, that look a lot like any small town in Texas, with a handful of older buildings mixed in with a handful of newer, public facilities?

The old downtown area is anchored on the South East corner by the intersection of Main Street and Sheppard, a little East of I-35.

Here is what we saw when we pulled into town:

Round Rock Texas Digital Art - Downtown Traffic
Even on a cold day (cold for Texas – 40 degrees!), the downtown area was packed and bustling. The library was open, as was City Hall, both of which attract a steady stream of patrons.

The History of Round Rock

The history of Round Rock, once upon a time named “Brushy” is documented on the city’s web site which is loaded with a very compelling and detailed collection of historical information (with research and source references) about the history of this part of Williamson County.

A brief excerpt:

The Round Rock Historic Commercial District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. The district consists of the buildings fronting the 100 and 200 blocks of E. Main Street and the Old Post Office/Masonic Lodge at 107 S. Mays Street.

A fair amount of the information about the city at the turn of the century in 1900 was gathered from old insurance maps, which laid out the city buildings that posed the greatest risk to the insurers.

Because the city’s site is comprehensive in historical detail, instead of re-telling those tales, we decided to share a few modern-day snapshots of the downtown area, with a little bit of a vintage feel to some of them. All of these photographs are from January 2011.

My personal favorite is of the corner of the old J.A. Nelson building. The photograph reminded of us one we saw recently of a corner in New Orleans.

JA Nelson Building in Round Rock Texas as a Digital Art Print

You will see, in the images of downtown Round Rock that follow, that many of these buildings were built in the late 1800s, most with limestone, readily available locally. Many of the facades have been updated through the years, but most are still fairly utilitarian, with just a few architectural details. The old drug store even has a pressed-tin front on the second story, although it’s not easy to discern form the street or in the photograph.



If you are considering moving to Round Rock, or already live in the area, remember to visit downtown and help keep the local merchants and businesses hopping.
You don’t need to drive out into the country to get a little small-town flavor!

Google Map of Downtown Round Rock


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Avery Ranch Real Estate Report 2009 – 2010

Avery Ranch Real Estate Market Update for 2010

Avery Ranch: a Master Planned CommunityA digital art print of a limestone home in the Avery Ranch subdivision in Austin
Avery Ranch at the Northern edge of Austin, Texas is an 1,800 acre master-planned community with over 4,000 homes that have access to 17 hill country acres of amenity centers, tennis courts, pools, and hike & bike trails located approximately 16 miles north of downtown Austin.

The subdivision of Avery Ranch is nestled just west and southwest of the city of Round Rock, and East of Cedar Park in Williamson County.
Avery Ranch is bounded by Brushy Creek to the North, Great Oaks Drive, to the East, the new 45 Toll road to the South, and the new 183A Toll road to the West. Avery Ranch is surrounded by well-regarded schools, shopping and entertainment, and is also home of The Golf Club at Avery Ranch a 226 acre 18-hole golf course bordering a 60 acre lake.

Homes in Avery Ranch were built between 2000 and 2009. Homes range from 1416 square feet to 6537. The average size of a home in Avery Ranch is 2650 square feet. Homes in this area have brick and limestone masonry, many with more complex roof lines. Most have dimensional roofs which are typically rated for 30 years.

Avery Ranch Real Estate Sales Comparison for 2009 to 2010

178 homes sold in Avery Ranch in 2009, an increase of 14 over 2009. These homes sold in a median of 44 days, or just over 6 weeks. This is a drop from a median of 53 days on the market in 2009.

The median price of a home in Avery Ranch in 2010 rose to $236,972 from $224,964 in 2009.
This rise is partially accounted for by a corresponding increase in the median size of the homes that sold, from 2198 to 2332 square feet.

The highest selling price was $575,000 and the lowest was $156,300.

10 of the homes that sold were listed as foreclosures.

Avery Ranch Real Estate Data for 2009 and 2010

More Avery Ranch Real Estate Data: Selling Price vs. Size

One thing we try to do in each subdivision report is to include some data that helps you understand the market in the area. The following chart shows the Selling Price vs. the Size for the 178 homes that sold in 2010. You can see the strong linear correlation, yet at the same time, at any given size, prices varied by tens of thousands of dollars.

Some of the variables that impact the price within a given size range would include:

Location (on the Golf Course, on a busier street or cul-de-sac)

Interior fit and finish (granite, stainless steel, tile, hardwood floors)

The general condition of the property (well-maintained, or in need of repair)

Avery Ranch Real Estate Sales Scatter Chart: Price vs. Size 2010

Photographs of Homes in Avery Ranch

Avery Ranch Featured Home as a Digital Art Print

For fun – this home had such nice details that I though it might look good with some vintage coloration and digitally painted effects.

Avery Range Home rendered as Vintage Digital Art Photograph

Google Map of the Avery Ranch Subdivision Area


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(note: all of the data in this report comes from the Austin Board of Realtors, and from the REALIST tax databases.)

Behrens Ranch Round Rock TX Market Report 2009 – 2010

Behrens Ranch Real Estate Market Activity Report for 2009 and 2010

The entrance to Behrens Ranch is quintessentially Texas: a windmill surrounded by limestone, trails and little shrubs and trees. This entrance is a perennial favorite of photographers, so we had to throw our own version into the ring as well:

Entrance to the Behrens Ranch Subdivision in Round Rock TX

Behrens Ranch: Location, Location, Location

The Behrens Ranch subdivision is located in the city of Round Rock, in Williamson County, a little Northeast of Austin. We’ve included a Google Map at the bottom of this report so you can see the major roads that provide access to this area.

This subdivision has large homes built between 2000 and 2009.
The smallest homes in Behrens Ranch, according to the tax databases, is 1650 square feet, and the largest is 8092 square feet. The median home size in the Behrens Ranch subdivision is 3325 square feet (median means that half are larger and half are smaller).

Behrens Ranch House Size Distribution Chart

You can see from the chart that the majority of homes in Behrens Ranch are between 2500 and 4500 square feet. Although smaller and larger homes can be found, they are less likely to come up for sale because fewer of them were built.

Real Estate Sales Data for Behrens Ranch for 2009 and 2010

56 homes sold in Behrens Ranch in 2010, an increase from 49 in 2009.
The days on the market (days from listing in the MLS and acceptance of contract, DOM) dropped from 67 days to 44, or just over 6 weeks. Although the median price dropped from $290,000 in 2009 to $283,500, so did the median size from 3205 to 3072. This means that the typical house in Behrens Ranch sold for more in 2010 than in 2009.

The most expensive home that sold in 2010 was $440,000. The least expensive was $220,000. 6 homes that sold were listed as foreclosures.

Real Estate Activity Report for Behrens Ranch for 2009 to 2010

Photographs of Homes in Behrens Ranch, Round Rock, Texas

While we were photographing this neighborhood in preparation for this report, we saw this elegant home and decided it should be rendered as an art print that emphasized the details in the stonework and the architectural lines.

Artistic painting of a elegant home in Behrens Ranch

And the rest of the photographs of homes in Behrens Ranch we took on this outing, to capture the styles and types of homes that you might find in the Behrens Ranch subdivision:

Open Fields in Behrens Ranch


Behrens Ranch has many wide-open fields with natural landscaping,
i.e. brush and shrubs and wiry little trees. These fields provide a buffer between areas of the subdivision as well as from adjacent roadways.

A grassy field in Behrens Ranch

Google Map of Behrens Ranch in Round Rock, Texas


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