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Highlighting the Central Texas Angel Network, the growing computer game industry, and deep pools of venture capital, Austin’s sizable and growing “Silicon Hills” startup community was the first in a new series in The New York Times looking at startup communities across America.

Austin is one of the top areas for venture capital investment in the country, garnering $621 million in 2012, according to the Austin Chamber of Commerce. Software and semiconductor firms received about 43 percent of that.

The big benefit of Austin, according to the story, is that it’s a less high-pressure scene than places like Silicon Valley and Boston, and that companies are able to grow and flourish here even if they never achieve billion-dollar valuations.

The Times reports, “The region’s start-up ecosystem includes several venture capital firms, the Central Texas Angel Network, one of the most active angel networks in the country, groups that foster and encourage entrepreneurship and several well-known incubators. There’s plenty of talent in the area, both recent graduates from the University of Texas and refugees from Austin’s large tech companies, like AT&T, I.B.M. and Dell. But it’s also not hard to get talent to relocate. Austin is a Colorado River town, with three lakes within the city’s limits, rolling hills, a relatively low cost of living for a metropolitan area and a great music scene.”

East Austin’s Affordable Housing Problem

Harold D. Hunt and Clare Losey (Mar 2, 2017)

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HOUSTON (Houston Chronicle) – A massive revision of state highway plans adds nearly $9 billion in new funds for improving Texas roadways, including a $1.32 billion major overhaul of I-45 in Houston and nine other area projects.
Projects along SH 36 in Fort Bend and Brazoria counties and SH 105 in Montgomery and ​San Jacinto Counties were also included in the unified transportation plan approved Tuesday by the Texas Transportation Commission.

​Construction will start in late 2020 on the first of seven separate projects that will realign I-45 along downtown’s eastern side, ​​parallel to I-69, also known as US 59.

Combined, the two interchanges are expected to cost nearly $1.7 billion, more than half the full cost of remaking I-4...

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Mar 29, 2017

AUSTIN – In the past six years the number of Austin building permits has increased more than 25 percent, according to city data.

During the same timeframe, the number of construction workers increased by more than 27 percent in the Austin-Round Rock metropolitan area, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Despite an increase in the number of overall workers, many construction sites are understaffed, namely with skilled laborers who must have specific certifications or licensing before they can perform work.

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AUSTIN-ROUND ROCK – The Austin Chamber released the latest 2016 Greater Austin Region Major Manufacturers Map and we want to share a preview with you!

Check The Austin Chamber of Commerce for more information

See the whole thing! Click for Austin Major Employers 2016 (PDF)

Mueller world’s largest LEED Gold neighborhood

Nov 18, 2016

AUSTIN – The 700-acre Mueller redevelopment recently became the largest neighborhood in the world to attain Stage 3 LEED-certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

It’s also the first neighborhood in Texas to earn LEED for Neighborhood Development Stage 3 Gold Certification under the pilot program.

Mueller is a joint project between the Austin’s economic development department and Catellus Development Corp.

It includes more than 1,175 single-family homes that have achieved an Austin Energy Green Building rating.

In addition, the community has three Platinum, six Gold, and five Silver LEED-certified buildings, including the first LEED Platinum-certi...

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Strength in numbers, Austin dips, but area grows

Nov 16, 2016

AUSTIN – Single-family home sales are down by 1 percent, a trend attributed to a decrease in housing inventory and a rise in development cost.

Home sales in the Austin-Round Rock area decreased by 1 percent in third quarter 2016 to 9,249 single-family home sales, and the median price rose 7.7 percent to $279,900 during the same timeframe.

This is from the most recent Texas Quarterly Housing (see page 4) report was released by the Texas Association of Realtors.

Leonard Guerrero, regional vice president with the Texas Association of Realtors, said because of the limited number of housing options in the Austin-Round Rock MSA, potential buyers are beginning to look toward su...

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If you are a renter, own rental property or are considering renting property to others, you need a copy of the Real Estate Center’s Landlord’s and Tenant’s Guide by Judon Fambrough, attorney at law.

Updated in 2014, the 136-page guide explains what every Texas landlord and tenant should know about his or her legal rights regarding rental property.

Take the following quiz. If you get all ten correct, you probably don’t need the guide. If you miss more than a couple, the last paragraph tells you how to get a free copy. Answers are either true or false.

  1. The maximum amount a landlord may demand as a security deposit is regulated by law.
  2. If a tenant breaches the lease by moving out early, the tenant automatically forfeits the security deposit.
  3. Under the deduct-and-repair statute, a tenant may deduct a maximum of $500 a month for repairs.
  4. Under certain circumstances, a landlord can obtain a lien on the tenant’s property. By the same token, the opposite is true.
  5. A tenant may unilaterally, without penalty, terminate a residential lease if the required security devices are not installed.
  6. Late payments contained in a lease agreement constitute interest. As such, they are subject to Texas usury laws.
  7. If a tenant has damaged property, at the end of the lease, the maximum liability the tenant faces is set by the amount of the security deposit.
  8. If a landlord has casualty insurance on the premises, the tenant’s property is automatically covered by the landlord’s policy.
  9. With both residential and commercial leases, a landlord has a duty to mitigate damages if the tenant breaches the lease by moving out early.
  10. A residential landlord may change the locks and withhold a new key from the tenant until all delinquent rent is paid.

According to Fambrough, here’s how you should have answered the quiz.

  1. False. Texas has no law dictating the maximum security deposit. It is negotiable.
  2. False. The Texas Property Code allows the landlord to deduct from the security deposit damages and charges resulting from a breach of the lease. While damages and charges, such as re-letting fees and lost rent, will exceed the security deposit, there is no automatic feature.
  3. False. The maximum is the greater of $500 or one month’s rent.
  4. True. The Texas Property Code permits landlord’s liens and grants tenants limited liens against the landlord’s property.
  5. True. After giving a written three- or seven-day notice to the landlord to comply, tenants may unilaterally terminate a lease, if the tenant was not delinquent in rent payments when the notice was given.
  6. False. Late payments on a loan constitute interest. Late payments on a lease are not a charge against the detention of funds, hence not interest.
  7. False. A tenant is personally liable for all damages exceeding the amount of the security deposit.
  8. False. The landlord’s insurance policy can cover only the landlord’s interest in the premises. Tenants must obtain their own policy to cover personal property.
  9. True. Since 1997, landlords have been required to mitigate rent in both commercial and residential leases by diligently trying to relet the vacated premises.
  10. False. Residential landlords may change locks, but they cannot withhold a new key for delinquent rent.

The landlords’ and tenants’ guide can be viewed or downloaded at https://assets.recenter.tamu.edu/Documents/Articles/866.pdf.

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On this week’s Real Estate Red Zone podcast, our chief economist, Dr. Jim Gaines, talked about some of the challenges the Texas economy will be up against in 2016. He mentions three things in particular to keep an eye on: the energy sector, the national economy and the value of the dollar.

If you haven’t listened to Jim’s insights, I highly recommend it. It’s a good listen (click here and play the first episode).

In the meantime, here are a few of his key points.

Energy
“The job losses in the energy sector have not stopped and, in fact, are probably going to pick up this coming year. There’s already been an initial wave of job losses — service companies have cut back, and Schlumberger, Baker-Hughes and Halliburton have announced layoffs. What doesn’t make the headlines was that that industry — or that group of companies — was really dominated by a whole bunch of small companies, from just a couple of employees to about 30, 40 or 50. Those companies are fragile in this market setting, and a lot of jobs will be lost there.”

National Economy
“Texas is not an independent country. We’re part of the United States, and if the U.S. economy is prospering and doing well in other industry groups — manufacturing or business services, or what have you — that buoys up the state. Fortunately, the national economy is still chugging along at a pace that, at least for the past five or six years, has been a slow to modest level of growth. But at least it’s positive and moving forward. That’s helping to fuel employment growth here that’s not energy-related.”

Value of the Dollar
“[The dollar] being so strong is really hurting our exports, and Texas is a number one or two state for exporting in our country. A lot of our industrial and investment dollars are based on exports and exporting activity.”

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