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Old 07-25-2007, 08:32 AM
 
43 posts, read 202,674 times
Reputation: 18

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My wife and I live in Virginia Beach and are both teachers (middle school math for her and elementary for me). Real estate prices prices are ridiculous here and we are looking to move, although we do really like this area. We are in our first home, which is a 1500 sq. ft., 3 bedroom, 2 bath ranch and the market price for it is around $225,000. We want to upgrade to a 4 bedroom, 2+ bath homw with at least 2,500 sq. ft. Around here you can't find that for under $350,000. I am amazed at the homes that I am seeing for under $200,000 just north of Austin where we are looking. My wife and I like the convenience of shopping within a short distance, but we would prefer to stay outside of the hustle and bustle of the big city atmosphere. Although we would like Austin to be a short drive when we do want to do things downtown. It is also important to us that we live in a safe area because we will be having children in the near future. With that said, here are my questions:

1. We are looking at homes in Round Rock, Pflugerville, Cedar Park, Georgetown, Hutto and Leander. Are any of these cities better than others? What does each have to offer?

2. As I mentioned, we have been looking at homes in the cities above that are 4 bedrooms, 2+ baths and 2,500-3,000 sq. ft. for under $200,000. Is this common or should I be cautious about these homes? Is it very possible that these homes are in bad neighborhoods?

3. I've noticed that property taxes can be very high. Does that fact that there is no state income tax ease the blow of the high property taxes?

4. Many of the homes that we have looked at have Home Owners Association dues. Is this common for neighborhoods in these cities? You rarely see that around here.

5. As teachers, would it be difficult for my wife and I to find jobs? Are any of the cities that I listed noted for having better school districts than others?


Thank you for taking the time to read and respond.
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Old 07-25-2007, 09:56 AM
 
Location: Austin, TX
9,154 posts, read 18,006,785 times
Reputation: 5230
Quote:
Originally Posted by dclboro View Post
My wife and I live in Virginia Beach and are both teachers (middle school math for her and elementary for me). Real estate prices prices are ridiculous here and we are looking to move, although we do really like this area...
First off, are you sure you are not going to miss the beach too much? $350K is becoming entry level in many markets, if you really like it there that's not too outrageous of a price.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dclboro View Post
1. We are looking at homes in Round Rock, Pflugerville, Cedar Park, Georgetown, Hutto and Leander. Are any of these cities better than others? What does each have to offer?
Personally, I like Round Rock and Cedar Park on your list. Leander is basically just the farther out area of Cedar Park (same ISD). Georgetown is a bit far for me, but many people like it. Georgetown and Round Rock have proper "downtowns" (but small). Cedar Park and Leander are basically bedroom communities, but there is plenty of shopping and they are closer to the "hill country" topography.
Quote:
2. As I mentioned, we have been looking at homes in the cities above that are 4 bedrooms, 2+ baths and 2,500-3,000 sq. ft. for under $200,000. Is this common or should I be cautious about these homes? Is it very possible that these homes are in bad neighborhoods?
You should always be cautious, but in the areas you are looking at $160-$200K can get you a fairly nice, even new, house. Not sure about 4 beds, 2+ bath, and 3000 sq ft, though -- you might be a little more cautious about <$200K houses at that top end in size.

Quote:
3. I've noticed that property taxes can be very high. Does that fact that there is no state income tax ease the blow of the high property taxes?
If your state income tax meant you had to cut a big check at tax time, then maybe it will ease the blow. For most people I've spoken with, the property tax seems worse because you a) have to cut a big check each year for it, or b) you have to pay hundreds on your mortgage payment each month for taxes. Also, each year (assuming your house appreciates), it goes UP. Sort of like if your income tax went up, but your salary didn't increase. Yes, your house may be worth more, but it's only on paper until you sell -- so in the meantime, your out of pocket goes up.

Quote:
4. Many of the homes that we have looked at have Home Owners Association dues. Is this common for neighborhoods in these cities? You rarely see that around here.
It is very common here, especially in newer communities. Can't think of a recent subdivision that doesn't have HOA/dues... The amounts vary pretty widely, so you just want to carefully examine what you are getting for your dues.
Quote:
5. As teachers, would it be difficult for my wife and I to find jobs? Are any of the cities that I listed noted for having better school districts than others?

Thank you for taking the time to read and respond.
Sorry, I don't have any idea what the teaching job outlook is like. I'm sure someone else here can provide some insight. Good luck!
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Old 07-25-2007, 04:58 PM
 
43 posts, read 202,674 times
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Thank you for the response atxcio. I know that $350,000 is entry level in many markets, but not on two teachers' salaries

As for finding a 4 bedrooms, 2 baths and 3,000 sq. ft. for under $200,000, I only saw a couple of listings (and I was cautious). Realistically, we are looking for something closer to 2,500 sq. ft. for under 200K.

Anyone else have any input on my original post?
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Old 07-25-2007, 05:29 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
1,235 posts, read 3,588,217 times
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I'll add to atxcio's comments. About Leander, it's farther out than Cedar Park but has an excellent long-term growth plan that will balance single-family housing developments with a downtown that is mass-transit oriented and pedestrian friendly. They're thinking ahead, and I think it will be a really nice town, one that you could certainly invest in with confidence that things will get better and prices will appreciate.

Other than that, I'd look at growth rates for school districts in the areas you listed and see where your best job opportunities lie. It's ideal in this area to live close to work because commute times can really eat into your quality of life. I've seen a number of people make the mistake of choosing to live too far from work, only to regret it so much that they end up taking a bath on the sale of their house as they seek to reduce their drive time and stress levels.

Ideally, you would get jobs first and choose housing based on the recommendations you get from other people who work in your new schools. Is that an option for you, or do you have to move here first? And if you have to move first, would you consider renting until you've secured your new employment? That would be a wise thing to do in order to prevent the problem of forgetting what your spouse looks like because you never have time to see them.
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Old 07-25-2007, 05:32 PM
 
Location: Texas Hill Country
2,393 posts, read 9,124,398 times
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I just moved to Leander and we are renting a home in Horizon Park right now to see where we want to buy in the area. The area seems really nice and you can't really tell where Leander ends and Cedar Park starts and also where cedar park ends and Round Rock begins. Loads of building going on in this area and Leander ISD seems to be opening up lots of schools and a new high school I think next year so I am sure you can find something there. If you want to PM me I can tell you what I have seem in the various housing areas of Leander and some of Cedar Park. I would consider leasing a house though for a while so you can see if this is the right area for ya.
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Old 07-25-2007, 05:39 PM
 
2 posts, read 56,158 times
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About 3 years ago, I made a similar move- from Washington, DC to Texas. I am also in the field of education (teacher) so I know how you feel.

First of all, I loved the fact that I was able to actually purchase a home- one of the perks of moving down south. In addition to that, I LOVED the fact that due to the income tax situation, I was able to keep most of my paycheck.

HOWEVER, I must say that it was my home buying process that caused me to get into the real estate business. There is so much information that I wish someone had told me (more specifically my mortgage broker). There is a BIG difference between someone contemplating relocation to purchase and the local buyer.

Since I moved in July, my first pro-rated tax bill was not too bad. Besides, I had no clue what I was getting into. The following year, when it came time to pay my taxes ( I did not escrow), I was amazed! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going into foreclosure or anything, but I can truly understand why some people losing their homes has nothing to do with their actual principle and interest payments.

I am in the process of refinancing my home. I am a part-time mortgage consultant , so I knew what to expect since I am now electing to escrow. I decided to let my friend who is a loan officer that can originate a loan anywhere in the U.S. process my loan. She was SHOCKED to see that my mortgage payment went from $874 (principle and interest) to $1496 (add taxes and insurance and my $700 per year HOA dues).

Now that I am a bit older, have a real estate and mortgage officer license, I am kicking myself for not staying on the east coast and purchasing my first home. I was so blinded by the fact that I could get a home for less than 200K in Texas that I didn’t realize that at the end of the day, what I pay in taxes could have been applied to the monthly payment on a home in the MD/DC/VA area whose value had a higher probability of appreciation (There is so much land in TX that builders are going crazy building new homes. As we all know, the industry is driven on supply and demand. I purchased my home brand new three years ago in a neighborhood with award winning schools, minimal crime, etc., and THIS MONTH, my home actually appraised at a value $200 LESS than its original appraised value.)

A friend who lives in Virginia put it to me this way: “ 400K mortgage will eventually stop when I decide to pay it off. YOUR taxes will NEVER stop. So, when it’s all said and done, who got the better deal?”

DON’T GET ME WRONG. I am NOT trying to discourage you from moving to Texas. JUST EDUCATE yourself on EVERYTHING before making a commitment.

Feel free to send me a message if you have anymore questions.
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Old 07-25-2007, 05:49 PM
 
Location: McLean, VA
790 posts, read 1,757,645 times
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Crimsonrose -- thanks for your great post. Though a native Texan, I live in Northern Virginia now (Reston) and will definitely purchase a home in the next year. I'm trying to understand why people are so crazy about retiring in Texas, when their income is stagnant but their home tax bill continues to climb. I guess if you really, really have to have a 3,000 sq ft cathedral ceiling home, Texas is the way to go.
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Old 07-25-2007, 05:49 PM
 
3 posts, read 7,729 times
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At the rate the surrounding cities are growing you should have not have a problem finding teaching jobs.
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Old 07-25-2007, 09:03 PM
 
43 posts, read 202,674 times
Reputation: 18
Thank you for all of the responses. Crimsonrose, you make a good point about how your taxes, insurance and HOA dues made your payment go from $874 to $1496, but I expected that. Here in Virginia Beach, residents pay $1.11 for every $100 of their property's value. For a $350,000 home here, which is typically 4 bed, 2 bath, 2,500 sq. ft. in a mediocre neighborhood, the yearly tax would be about $3,900. I could get the same size home in Round Rock for under $200,000. The homes that I have been looking at there have property taxes around $5,000. That would be roughly $100 more a month in property taxes. I would gladly take the trade off of paying $100 more a month in property taxes to be able to afford twice the home that I am living in now in a nice neighborhood. Right now I live in a !,500 sq. ft. home with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths and the monthly mortgage with taxes and insurance included in $1,600 a month.

I know several people have mentioned that I should probably rent and then look for a home after I move, but I forgot to mention that my wife and I will be visting for a week in November and a week in March. Do you think that would be enough time to scope the areas and make an informed decision?

If anyone else can give me more of their input from my original post, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks.
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Old 07-25-2007, 09:28 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
5 posts, read 20,977 times
Reputation: 11
Smile Austin information

We actually moved from Virginia (Ashburn, VA) to Austin in 2003. Moderator cut: advertising
Based on what you mentioned, Cedar Park is definitely a great area with homes in the price range you mentioned full of amenities. Round Rock is also another excellent choice. Basically, all of the areas you mentioned are growing like crazy. It comes down to price and location in this case. I know of several communities in particular in these various areas that have a lot to offer. Leander has excellent schools.

With the criteria you mentioned, you can definitely find what you are looking for in nice neighborhoods (and safely say under $250,000).

Property taxes are higher in Texas, but they vary from community to community. This is something to pay attention to because it can vary a lot from one community to the next. But, as you mentioned, we do not have a state income tax, so this save quite a bit.

HOA dues are extremely common in communities in and around austin, and also vary from one community to the next.

As teachers, I would recommend focusing on Leander schools, Round Rock schools, or Eanes school district.

Moderator cut: advertising

Last edited by Trainwreck20; 07-26-2007 at 09:27 AM..
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