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Old 06-01-2009, 10:04 PM
 
8 posts, read 47,499 times
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Hi,

My wife and I have been in Austin now about a year... We are currently shopping for a house. We have been looking in a number of areas that we like in both north and south Austin... However, we are starting to focus more on a couple of areas in South Austin.

One community we like is the Independence neighborhood (near Manchaca and Stassney). This is a great location for us as it's about 10 miles from both of our offices.

Another area we found (that's just getting started) is the Gabardine development near Frate Barker and Brodie, in Shady Hollow ... This too is within 15 miles of both of our offices... Our drives would be pretty nice. We like the Gabardine development as it will back up to a 13 acre green belt area... This is something the Independence area won't provide (Although, the Independence area is across the street from a park).

However, with both areas, they seem to be classified as "condos" or "garden homes"- even though they are detached "houses". What is the skinny with these types of homes? Are they good for investment purposes, or would we be throwing our money away?

We assume these types of homes have their pros and cons, and we've listed some:

Pros: Low maintenance (no yard work?), we like the look of the houses being built in these areas - bright and interesting colors, possibly tight-knit communities (which could also be a con - depending on who your neighbors are), the location for both works well for us - we'd rather not spend our lives in traffic.

Cons: Small lots, "condo" classification (will this affect selling the house in the future?), Homeowners associations (who manages the HOA?), we wouldn't "own" the property the houses would be built on, limited parking - the streets are full of cars...

Anyway, that's just some of what we've thought of (as to how we see things)... We may be completely off... We're curious to what others think about these types of areas. They seem to be popular in the Austin area, and where we're from (Arizona, and Michigan) we've never seen anything like it. Condos to me sometimes have a stigma that can be difficult to shake... However, these also seem to be popular here... but is it just a passing trend? What are the long-term outlooks for places like these?

Any input, good or bad, on these "garden homes" would be appreciated.

BTW, we're looking for a decent sized house at a good value (3 BR, 1700-ish sq. feet, decent sized yard as we have two dogs, or if the house is within walking distance to an area where we can exercise the dogs, that's fine too), under $230K would be ideal. Any recommendations to other areas would be great too.
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Old 06-01-2009, 11:22 PM
 
8 posts, read 47,499 times
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Article I found to help answer my own question:

When a house is not a house - Page 2 - MSN Real Estate

Would still like some insider information from others who live in one of these types of communities...

Would you do it again? What do you like? What do you NOT like? What kind of problems have you encountered?
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Old 06-02-2009, 06:23 AM
 
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We really liked living in a condo before we had kids and spent more time out of home than in it. It was a good way to build some equity in a time we would have been living in an apartment. I'm not a realtor, but I would think there would be an active market in the right location for townhouses/condos/garden homes- new couples, retirees, single people. Just my .02.
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Old 06-02-2009, 08:42 AM
 
Location: 78747
3,202 posts, read 5,070,353 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sundevil98 View Post
One community we like is the Independence neighborhood (near Manchaca and Stassney). This is a great location for us as it's about 10 miles from both of our offices.

Another area we found (that's just getting started) is the Gabardine development near Frate Barker and Brodie, in Shady Hollow ... This too is within 15 miles of both of our offices... Our drives would be pretty nice.
both locations are very nice and I would consider them to be sound investments. Indepenence is iffy in terms of schools, but the location is great - (it's gated I believe?) You are close to NewFlower Market which is one of the best groceries in South Austin IMO. You are also close to Sunset Valley, Brodie and West Gate. This area is up and coming due to proximity to downtown and you will spend relatively little time in your car as a result. The second location mentioned is a bit furthur out. The positives are that you are next to Shady Hollow and other realllly nice homes on Brodie (400K+) which will have an upward pull on your resale. 1626 is just south of you on Brodie - you hop on that, head west and you are in Hays, Buda, and hill country pretty much immediately. The draw back of this neighborhood is commuting to downtown, Brodie is a mess of traffic and school zones to be avoided at all costs. Your best bet will be to travel down Manchacha to Lamar all the way to downtown - it's only 10 miles, but it's 10 mile of city streets unless to shoot 2 miles west to mopac or 3 mile east to 35. Other than that, they are both nice. I would choose Independence, though for the amenities and proximity. It will pay for itself. Judging from your post, it sounds like you are working at or near UT or Mueller?
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Old 06-02-2009, 09:14 AM
 
Location: 78747
3,202 posts, read 5,070,353 times
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I think the Independence homes start at 219K? This is a steal for this area, sure you're not inside Ben White, but it's close enough. You could theoretically live at that location without a car even. The bus routes from DT to and from South Austin run down all the major arteries (Congress, First, Manchanca, Lamar)

One more factor to consider: one less car payment possibly.
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Old 06-02-2009, 09:25 AM
 
Location: Austin
7,205 posts, read 18,707,239 times
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The biggest problem you're going to have is financing. THese "houses" are legally zoned as "condos" and that's a completely different contract here in Texas. There is a single family/townhome contract and a condo contract. Lenders/underwriters have completely different underwriting conditions on a condo verse a house.

For example, a condo complex will have to show 60%+ owner occupancy. They will also have to show that no single person owners more than 10% of the community, as rental properties. There are other conditions, but check them out before submitting an offer.

You might need to talk with your lender before you get too involved in these communities because it happens all the time where the buyer can't actually obtain financing because of the different "rules".
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Old 06-02-2009, 11:42 AM
 
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Thanks for the replies... Very helpful. We will look more into the financing... We're just in the "search and see what's out there" phase right now. We're leaning more towards the Gabardine area, mainly because of it's proximity to a nice wooded park area. Although, that probably won't be developed for quite a while. I work near 360 and Lost Creek... My wife is near Congress/Oltorf... So the Independence area would be a LOT closer, and a little less traffic, but the Gabardine homes will be a bit less. We really liked one of the Independence floorplans (more so than the 100 so new homes we've looked at the past year). So, that may end up being a winner... Although, we still haven't seen one of the Gabardine homes finished yet (should be done in a couple weeks or so according to the sales guy).
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Old 06-17-2009, 12:32 PM
 
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I live in Mueller now, but used to live at Chestnut Commons (east Austin off of MLK) - which was developed by the same company that is developing Gabardine. In chestnut, I bought at the beginning of the construction, we were house number 3 on the block, and then we were able to rent it out with no trouble when we decided to move to Mueller. Chestnut is in East Austin (which we love) as is Mueller, but the surrounding neighborhood to Chestnut was not as appealing for kids as Mueller is (given that Gabardine is in Shady Hollow - the surrounding area is no problem). Also, I know my former neighbor at Chestnu (also bought in the first phase) was able to sell his "garden home"/"detached condo" for 30k more than what he paid (roughly 13% increase in about 18 months). He sold it about 3 months ago...so during the down market - the market held for this type of house.

Pros with Gabardine (or garden home communities in general with HOAs) - at Chestnut, we didn't have to mow even inside our fenced area. The mowed, weed eat, pull weeds, prune plants - all of it. Roof, exterior paint - all done by the HOA. Our annual insurance was only about $500 for the year because we only had to cover "studs in". I think that's what helped us rent and our neighbor sell so quickly is that the overall look of the community was so good.

I also think you might want to check out the schools for Independence vs. Gabardine - I know Gabardine is Shady Hollow - so the schools are going to be top notch. This will help resale/investment as well.

Having lived in the same type of community as Gabardine, I would readily embrace it again! Good luck with your house hunting!

I'm re-reading through the other posts. I don't know about lending at Gabardine, but at Chestnut we were able to use Bank of America without a problem. They do their loans "in-house" so they didn't have a condo requirement. Lending practices have been changing in the recent market, so you'll have to see what's available.

Do you know who the builder is for Independence vs. Gabardine? Not just the developer, but who is actually building the homes?
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Old 06-17-2009, 12:53 PM
 
8 posts, read 47,499 times
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Thanks for your reply!

The builder at Gabardine is David Weekly Homes... Can't find much info (good or bad) on their build quality... But, it seems as though they typically build higher end homes.
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Old 06-17-2009, 01:10 PM
 
Location: Austin
44 posts, read 112,267 times
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David Weekly is a middle of the road builder. They have been doing more inner city building in the past two years. Condo is a four letter word with lenders today. I would first check with your lender on rates before you start.. Remember HOA dues for condos can have a wide range so do your home work..
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