April 13, 2013

The Book: Dream Home



ARE YOU IN THE MARKET TO BUY A NEW HOME? Are you a real estate agent or builder whose clients need help in buying their new home? Do you wish there was one simple guide that helps you through the process of buying a home and explains everything from the key players in the housing business to interior design choices and architectural styles? DREAM HOME is that guide. It provides home buyers with insightful commentary on the American housing industry and turns readers into more informed real estate consumers.

This book will help you:

  • learn about the process of making and marketing houses
  • understand how selecting options for your home is a major cost factor
  • consider the impact of styles and themes on the identity of your home
  • communicate what you want instead of automatically accepting what you are offered
January 26, 2014



 Posted by Dr. Anthony Alofsin

 Although demand for big homes took a dip during the recent recession, according to the New York Times, the demand for large scale luxury builder homes is returning with a roar.

Sales of luxury homes costing over million dollars were up by almost 47% from July 2012 to July 2013. These luxury buyers tend to be moving up the housing ladder; they have robust incomes, safe jobs, and successful stock portfolios.

Toll Brothers, a builder which has dedicated itself to the luxury market, has profited mightily from this rebound. It had an increase in revenue of 65% in its fourth-quarter ending December, 2013, with sales up during same period by 21%.

 The biggest draw in Toll Brothers’ luxury homes are houses with the largest kitchens and the largest master suites. These two attractions existed before the recession but they are even more appealing now and people spend as much as they can on these amenities.

 Options provide great profit for most builders and can add substantially to the base price. In 2013 Toll Brothers’ buyers added almost 21% to the base price of their homes by the options they selected. These options included media rooms, mud-rooms, sun rooms, suites for in-laws,  and even a second kitchen where real cooking happens but can be hidden from view, leaving the main kitchen intact and pristine.

 While the luxury end of the market is wagging the dog, the low end is sluggish.  People with financial resources are getting mortgages whereas first time buyers are struggling to come up with down payments and to qualify for mortgages. Recent college graduates find that payments on their huge student loans exacerbate the challenge of getting mortgage.

 For people with financial means, the trends in this tick upscale to bigger homes are:

 *Buyers want to buy new homes in established suburbs, close to jobs and schools, not the farther out exurbs where McMansions were often built before the bust.

 *Upgrades, and plenty of them, retain their appeal and will proliferate.

 *The existence of guarantees, some as long as ten years, and the notion of getting custom designs through the selection of options give buyers a sense of making good investments when spending a lot of money for their homes.

 For everybody else:

*Unless the economy improves for the non-rich and mortgages become more easily available, many Americans will continue to struggle when buying a new home

Source: New York Times, Sunday Business Section, p. 6. January 26, 2014. On line:   http://nyti.ms/1jPqsFv   accessed January 26, 2014.

January 22, 2014

New Developments in Austin, TX

More and more people come to live in Austin by the day. This rapid increase of population demands the housing market to respond with many new developments. More specifically, the suburbs of Austin are experiencing great growth due to the existing density of the downtown area.

Select communities such as Cedar Park, Georgetown, and Round Rock are being highly developed. Builders such as those at M/I Homes are perusing many developments at once. This company provides both move-in ready home or the costumer can choose from their “wide variety of floor plans” to “design” their own home. Some of their most interesting developments include:

Caballo Ranch
As a new development in Cedar Park, TX, “The beautiful community offers peaceful winding streets, creekside home-sites, walking trails and a beautiful pool featuring covered cabana areas.”( http://www.mihomes.com/Find-Your-New-Home/Austin-Homes) It’s prices range from $319,000 to $386,000. There are eight home designs that the costumer can choose from with minor upgrades for additional cost. Square footage ranges from 2,208 – 3,687. Immenities include a neighborhood pool, a model home, and nearby parks and golf course. Visiting hours are Mon-Sat 10-6, Sun 12-6

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Highlands At Mayfield Ranch
Located at Georgetown, TX, these homes are a new development fairly close to Austin’s major expressway, I-35. Included in your home purchase is access to the neighborhood’s “esort style community pool equipped with its own pool toys!” (http://www.mihomes.com/FindYourHome/CommunityDetails.aspx?Community=262101000000) These single-family homes range from $284,990 – $346,991 and 2,208 – 3,628 square feet. Inverntory homes include seven deigns to choose from (many of which are the same as listed in the housing complex above).

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Paloma Lake
Nested in the quickly expanding Round Rock, TX, Paloma Lake offers homes that range in price from $262,990 – $327,486. Square footages ranges from 2,208 – 3,628 and its location is very close to Round Rock Preimium Outlets, Dell Diamond (Home of the Round Rock Express) and Inner Space Caverns (http://www.mihomes.com/FindYourHome/CommunityDetails.aspx?Community=262102000000). It also has its own fishing dock for residents only. Anyone can choose from five inventory homes or new move-in ready homes. This housing complex also includes a pool.

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Cheryl Willett

January 22, 2014

Austin Area Development Communities

 Highland Horizon by David Weekly in Round Rock


Trees, lush landscaping and classic exteriors make these new homes timeless. Inside, the luxuries abound with floor plans that boast today’s most sought after flooring, stainless appliances and the latest energy-efficient building techniques. Residents also enjoy amenities such as:

Price: starting at $370,000:  2370 – 3369 sq. ft.

Style’s: 11 different home plans

Sale’s Team hours: Monday – Saturday 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM, Sunday 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Sale’s Office Address: 212 Southern Cross Drive, Austin, TX 78717 512 821-8880



Bradshaw Crossing by Lennar in South Austin

Bradshaw Crossing

Bradshaw Crossing in South Austin is a master-planned community in an outstanding location, Be close to EVERYTHING, City and State Parks, employment, good schools, grocery, recreation, retail and nearby downtown Austin.

Price: starting at $174,900: 1,314 – 2,297 sq. ft.

Style’s: 6 different home plans

Sale’s Team hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM, Monday – Sunday 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Sale’s Office Address: 10409 Premier Park Street, Austin, TX 78747, 512-292-6695



Sterling Bridge by Centex Homes in North East Austin

Sterling Bridge

Stirling Bridge features include: Oversized lots; Conveniently located near Dell, Samsung, Applied Materials and Apple; Optional greenbelt home sites; Walking trails; Fitness center ; Lighted basketball courts; Located close to major roads; 130, I-35, 290, 183 and Parmer Lane; 15 Minutes from downtown Austin; Swimming pool; Lighted tennis courts

Price: Starting at $159,990: 1427 – 2776 sq. ft.

Style’s: 7 different home plans

Sale’s Team hours: Monday – Saturday 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM, Sunday 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Sale’s Office Address: 6101 Magnus Street, Austin, TX 78754

January 21, 2014

New Housing In Austin

Due to Austin’s rapid growth and development, the housing market is booming and prices are high. As these developments continue, I have become interested in the claims for “green” homes available in Austin that fall in both the affordable and more luxury price brackets.

Westgate Grove is a new community coming soon to South Austin featuring 2-3 bedroom homes for income-qualified families and individuals. These homes are guaranteed to be Green Building certified by the City of Austin, and have integrated sustainable features into the design of the community. In just one week on January 28, a groundbreaking event is scheduled featuring HomeBase, Westgate Momark LLC, Wes Peoples Homes, and City of Austin Officials.
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Northwoods at Avery Ranch is a 182-acre community of 550 home sites. The homes offered in this community are built by Drees Custom Homes, Standard Pacific Homes, Grand Haven Homes, Scott Felder Homes, and David Weekley Homes. Each builder describes their plans using language such as “EnergySaver options”, Energy Star Certified floor plans, and concerned about energy efficiency. These homes range from the mid $200s to $580s and feature anywhere from 2 to 6 bedrooms.


Mueller is a 700-acre site featuring more than 5,700 single-and multi-family homes and at least 25% of these are in the Mueller Affordable Homes Program. This community features more than 140 acres of parks and greenways and creatively reused what was a Brownfield site in Austin. Builders that contributed homes to this community are The Muskin Company, Standard Pacific Homes, David Weekley Homes, Streetman Homes, and Homes by AVI. These homes come in a vast variety of configurations and combinations of single and multi-family dwellings.

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January 21, 2014

Austin Housing Developments


Builder: Ashton Woods Homes

Ashton Woods Homes specializes in single family houses and offers floor plans that can customized to need personal wants and needs. Located off of Hamilton Pool Road, Vistancia is Ashton Woods Homes’ newest community with homes set on one acre lots with view of Hill Country. Prices range from $450,000 to $600,000.


Chestnut Commons

Developer: Momark Development, LLC, and Benchmark Land Development

Chestnut Commons is a transit-oriented hybrid community consisting of condos and detached urban homes located in East Austin next to the MLK MetroRail stop. This high density neighborhood has been quickly gentrifying and these homes are smaller than the typical development to make home ownership more attainable. The prices range from $149,000 to $260,000.



Builders: Ashton Woods Homes; Coventry Homes; David Weekley Homes; Drees Custom Homes; Ryland Homes; Taylor Morrison

Sweetwater is another Hill Country development and it is located off of TX-71 on 1,400 acres of land. Four neighborhoods have already been completed and two more neighborhoods, Stonecreek and Hillcrest, are coming this year. The development offers a recreational club as well as hiking trails and is located within the Lake Travis Independent School District. Prices range from mid $300,000s to mid $700,000s.


January 21, 2014

Austin Housing Developments


Steiner Ranch

“With panoramic views of the Texas Hill Country, Lake Travis and Lake Austin the View at Steiner Ranch is a destination in the community of Steiner Ranch. Highly acclaimed schools, easy access to major employers and close proximity to shopping, dining and entertainment make the View at Steiner Ranch the perfect getaway that you desire to come home to.” (http://www.gehanhomes.com)

4309 Vista Verde, Austin, TX 78732

PRICE RANGE: Starting at $402,990
2,020 Square feet – 3,270 Square feet


OFFICE HOURS: Sun- Mon 12-6pm, Tues – Sat 10-6pm

Gehan Homes also prides itself by being the 27th Largest Homebuilder in the U.S., among many other awards. Every Gehan Home is energy smart. This includes energy-saving features that work together to reduce energy consumption. They use the latest technologies such as low VOC paint for better air quality, energy efficient windows and radiant barrier roof decking.

Reduction of Energy Use: 44%
Estimated Monthly Savings: $82
Estimated Annual Savings: $988

LADERA by Taylor Morrison



Ladera is located in the hill country of Austin. It is conveniently located in a premier Bee Cave location off RR 620, with easy access to Highway 71, but tucked away in the beautiful hills surrounding Lake Travis. Residents will enjoy fantastic views and will be minutes away from world-class shopping, dining, and entertainment at the Hill Country Galleria. Your Austin lifestyle is enhanced by the close proximity to Lake Travis, the best water sport destination with boating, fishing, sailing, waterskiing, tubing and every activity imaginable. Ladera is located in the Lake Travis school district affording families the best education in top rated schools with excellent private schools offered in the area as well. (http://www.taylormorrison.com)

250 Units
60-Currently under construction

3 Sections within the community:
Ladera -The Villas
SF Range: 1800sf – 2700sf
Price Range: low $300,000 to high $300,000

Ladera – The Enclave
SF Range: 2000sf – 3100sf
Price Range: mid $300,000 to mid $400,000

Ladera – The Estates
SF Range: 2600sf – 4200sf
Price Range: $400,000 to $500,000

5348 Pedernales Summit Parkway
Austin, Texas 78738
Mon-Sat 10-6, Sun 12-6

Neighborhood Villages
-Highland Lakes by Ryland Homes
-Canyonwood by David Weekley Homes, Ashton Woods Home
-Creekside by Coventry Homes, Taylor Morrison
-Davenport Summit by Drees Custom Homes

Davenport Summit is our first gated village, offering Sweetwater’s largest homesites and incredible Hill Country views. Homes are priced from the low $500s by Drees Custom Homes.  The neighborhood is named for Osceola Heard Davenport, a wealthy South Texas widow who owned this land in the last half of the twentieth century.


Sweetwater—a 1,400-acre masterplanned community in the Hill Country just 25 minutes west of downtown. Sweetwater is located in the Lake Travis school district, ranked among the very best in Texas, and is just 5 minutes from great shopping, dining and entertainment at the Hill Country Galleria in Bee Cave.  You’ll find new homes from the mid-$200s to the $600s by some of the nation’s leading builders, including Drees Custom Homes, Taylor Morrison, Coventry, David Weekley, Ashton Woods and Ryland.  The Sweetwater Welcome Center and 7 model homes are open daily. (http://sweetwaterliving.com)


January 21, 2014

Tuesday at The Grolier Club

Many good friends and colleagues attended The Grolier Club event despite the snowy and windy weather. We had a very interesting discussion on Architectural Pattern Books.  Below are few shots from this afternoon.

January 21, 2014

Housing Developments/Builders

Growth in Austin has been ramping up for the last few years and 2014 proves to be another year of growth for the city.  Many changes involving infrastructure and transportation have been gearing towards continued growth for the community. Compared to last year, statistics have shown increased growth in the housing market especially.  Over 1,800 single-family homes were sold, up 14% from last year.  The median price for single-family homes is $219,000, up 10% compared to last year. Clearly, Austin is a hotbed for growth and people are eager to move to the area.

Leave Austin


Tucked away on the east side of I-35 off of Airport Blvd. is the Mueller development. The Mueller is striving to create an archetypal community for future developments in Austin.  On their website they state their Vision: “To create a district that would be a model for responsible urban development – an alternative to land-consumptive and automobile-dependant development patterns throughout the region that could influence the form and pattern of growth within Austin.”



Mueller has a wide-range of amenities that not only influence their immediate residences, but have far-reaching effects on the community as a whole.  They provide affordable and flexible finance housing, 25% of the homes are promised to be affordable homes making it possible for lower income families to move in. In addition to residential zones they have also provided new commercial areas, the latest of which is an H-E-B shopping complex along with an array of other new shopping areas providing services and jobs that are within walking distance for community members.

Mueller works with many builders: Homes by Avi, The Muskin Company, Streetman Homes, Standard Pacific Homes, and David Weekly Homes.  There are a wide selection of types of homes to build including: Yard homes, Garden homes, Row houses, Courtyard houses, Mueller houses, Shop houses, and Condominiums.


Set outside of the City in the nearby town of Round Rock is Teravista.  For the fifth time, Teravista has won the MAX award for “Best overall community.”  Covering the 1,567 acres of this community, is the: golf course, community wildflower park, pool complex, fitness center, and a number of hike and bike trails.  Residence can choose to send their children to either Round Rock ISD or Georgetown ISD schools as Teravista is in a central location for both.

There are many home builders that serve to build a wide variety of homes: CastleRock Communities, Ryland Homes, Partners in Building, Village Builders, Willshire, Centerra Homes, D.R. Horton, Lennar, Milestone Community Builders, Billage Builders, Wes Peoples Homes.  The homes range in sizes and prices and seem to offer many options for those looking to move to the area.  Teravista has seven model homes and 75 “quick move-in” homes available.



The  Grove at Falconhead

The Grove at Falconhead is an exclusive gated community just west of Austin.  There is one builder here called Ash-Creek homes.  The community is small, 47 Tuscan Villas with what’s promised to be the lowest property taxes in Travis County.  All of the homes are rated by the Austin Energy Green Building Program resulting in a more eco-friendly way of living and lower energy bills.  The community is described as a “sophisticated tuscan village” with full lawn service provided.  The community is 5 minutes from the Hill Country Galleria Shopping area, is in walking distance to the PGA Championship Falconhead Golf Course, 5 minutes from a brand new medical facility, within the exceptional Lake Travis school district, with many outdoor activities nearby at Lake Travis.




January 20, 2014

New Housing Developments (Austin, TX)

In Austin, It is becoming increasingly difficult to follow the sheer number of new housing developments due to the rise in population and growing city. Approximately 30,000 people are expected to move to the Austin area in 2014. Between November 2012 and November 2013, 8,966 single-family building permits were issued. Although I observe many of these new housing developments in newspapers, magazines, and catalogs, online databases are one of the most efficient and helpful sources available to the public. NewHome Source (www.newhomesource.com) is one of many online sites that provide home buyers and home builders unprecedented access to current housing information. Searches can be tailored for location, price ranges, number of bedrooms/bath, school districts, and current availability. Below are some of my findings:

Chaparral Crossing by Pacesetter Homes (Austin, TX) – “Only 15 minutes away from the State  Capital, this unique garden home community offers a low maintenance lifestyle for people on the go”. (13 Available Homes) (Size: 810 – 1,410 sq.ft.) (Price: $102,400 – $135,700)

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Southbridge Villas by Milestone Community Builders (Austin, TX) – “Picturesque, relaxed South Austin living Tuscan style homes…just minutes away from downtown Austin”. (6 Available Homes) (Size: 1,710 – 2,273 sq.ft.) (Price: $247,490 – $299,249)


Enclave at Rough Hollow by Taylor Morrison (Lakeway, TX) – “Exceptional master planned community…perched atop limestone cliffs above beautiful Lake Travis…offers glorious views abundant recreational opportunities, and a wealth of enviable housing options”. (12 Available Homes) (Size: 3,153 – 5,028 sq.ft.) (Price: $583,990 – $895,231)


Hiro Horikoshi

January 20, 2014


My students in the course “The American Home” will be posting their current research on a variety of topics.  We start with a broad survey and assessment of housing sites in the Austin, Texas metropolitan area.  Have a look and see what you think.

Dr. Alofsin —

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