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Welcome to our blog! Check back here often to get the latest in local and national real estate news, statistics, and discussions. Click here to subscribe to our RSS Feed.

Great article from Dr. Ted Jones on the increasing demand for second homes. Although we are not a “bargain price” market, this is a trend that will still impact Austin as our rents continue to rise and more people hear about Austin’s strong job market and interesting culture.  This trend also continues to support the downtown condo market with its declining number of units left to sell (or rent!). Read the full article here. 

Forbes includes Gracy's parent company, Stewart Information Services, in top 100 of 8,000 NYSE-Listed Firms

Investor’s trust had greatly diminished over the last few years with economically distressful headlines filled with corporate scandals, bailouts and bankruptcies about some of the country’s largest public companies. Forbes turns to GMIRATINGS (GMI) who assigns each company an accounting and governance risk score, or AGR, every three months based on proprietary modeling designed to identify practices that historically have had a high correlation with increasing shareholder risk. Trustworthy companies of the GMI Ratings (GMI) are ones that do not have elevated risks and are models of openness and integrity.

GMI Rating for Stewart Information Services

  • Current AGR Score (as of 3/13/12): 97
  • Average AGR Score (last four quarters):84
  • Market Value ($M): 266

GMI examined more than 8,000 companies traded on U.S. exchanges where Stewart Title is recognized within the Small Cap. category. See a full list of honorees.

Qualifications include: market caps of $250 million or more, “conservative” or “average” ratings over the last four quarters and having no amended filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, no SEC enforcement actions, and no material restatements. Honorees had to also Rank high in GMI’s Equity Risk Ranking, which indicates a positive forecast for equity returns, and have minimal likelihood of financial distress as measured by GMI’s Bankruptcy Risk model.

Read full story from

Read Stewart Press Release

Be Sure to Use Gracy Relocation Tools.

Austin is the No. 6 U.S. destination city for relocation according to a report from U-Haul International Inc.  The report, titled "The 2011 Top 50 U.S. Destination Cities," ranks destinations for movers traveling more than 50 miles. Data was compiled from more than 1.6 million U-Haul truck transactions in 2011.

Austin 360 BridgeThe top 10 cities are:

  1. Houston
  2. Orlando, Fla.
  3. Las Vegas
  4. Chicago
  5. San Antonio
  6. Austin
  7. Atlanta
  8. Sacramento, Calif.
  9. Kansas City, Mo.
  10. Denver

If you are working with Relocation clients, be sure to use the Gracy Relocation Tools

  • Gracy Relocation Guide (Printed copies can be provided for a fee)
  • MLS Area Profiles (Online profile of most MLS areas including zip codes, school districts, and neighborhood lists)
  • MLS Statistics (Gracy Title compiles statistics by MLS Area each month and makes them available on the web and through our exclusive iPhone App)
  • Net Sheet App (Create a Buyer’s or Seller’s Net Sheet with this great tool for the iPhone or Android)
  • Market Overview (This is a 30 minute, or one hour if MCE, overview of the Austin Market presented by Gracy’s CEO.  Learn what makes Austin such a Relocation magnet)
  • Work with your favorite Gracy Closer and your favorite Sales Executive

As a bonus, here’s a great Cost of Living Wizard from Home Fair. You will be surprised how often the combination of housing costs and average incomes shows Austin to be more affordable than the city your relocation clients are moving from.

117% Combined Operating Profits and Property Value Change in a Decade

The National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries (NCREIF) is a non-profit trade association for pension funds and other tax-exempt investors in real estate created to aggregate and report accurate, unbiased real estate return data. 

One of the many data series they provide is the NCREIF Property Returns Index reporting quarterly performance in both property value and operating income for more than 6,800 commercial properties having a combined value in excess of $283 billion.  A description of the index and the quarterly can be found here.  This series is perhaps the best proxy for U.S. commercial real estate performance.

In the past 10 years, average annual return of the index was 7.73 percent, with a combined 13.56 percent total return (property value change and operating income) in 2011.  While some of the properties are leveraged using debt, the index is calculated as if all properties were unlevered. 

Commercial real estate was one of the top investment performers in 2011.  In the past decade, the total return was more than 117 percent—a more than doubling of the original investment.

For a look at all of the NCREIF data series (including timberland) click

(Thanks to Dr. Ted C. Jones for providing this excellent overview of commercial real estate returns)

Housing Market Continues Recovery

The National Association of Realtors® reported February 2012 homes sales of 4.59 million on a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate—a gain of 8.8 percent when compared to February 2011.  That’s really good news for the housing market since home prices typically follow the trajectory of sales numbers, although lagging 18 to 24 months.   Dr. Ted C. Jones provides the following graphs and analysis based on NAR’s recent release.

Finally, some solid, good news for the national housing market not created by an artificial tax stimulus.

To remove the seasonality noise from the data, the following table shows a 12-month moving average of existing home sales.  Focus on the rising sales numbers in the red circle below and realize that the market indeed is recovering.  Existing home sales on a 12-month moving average basis have now increased in six of the past seven months.

Home values may have finally stabilized, after declining almost 27 percent from the peak in July 2006. This now makes three months that prices (on a 12 month moving average) have remained static.  I am calling a bottom to the housing market at this time.

While home sales and prices are far off of the 2002 levels (which I consider normal given that period was following the 2001 recession and prior to the stupidity of subprime lending which caused the bubble), sales numbers are finally increasing and prices have stabilized.  I truly believe that housing has turned the corner to recovery—and that is great news.

To read the entire NAR press release, click: