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On Tuesday, April 16th, the Gracy Title - Far West fee office experienced a one-of-a-kind closing that will not be soon forgotten. Cortney Renfro and Tanya Parks joined Kelley Clampitt (Escrow Officer), Tami Baker (Realtor) and Jeff Albrecht (Loan Officer) for their 3:00 pm closing appointment.

Eager to sign off on the purchase of their new home, Tanya walked away with much more than she anticipated. After roughly 45 minutes of reviewing and signing documents, her boyfriend Cortney had only one burning question to ask, only it had nothing to do with the closing. When Kelley walked out to make copies of the contract, Tanya's parents and sister were ushered in and the stage was set for Cortney. He got down on one knee before Tanya, presented her with an engagement ring and proclaimed his love by asking for her hand in marriage.

Had she said "no" you obviously would not be reading this right now, instead you can only imagine the emotions and excitement that erupted from such an intense moment. The happy couple was then presented with flowers, cake and champagne. It wasn't long before everyone in the office had gathered around to join in the engagement celebration. Wanda Frederick (President of Gracy Title) and Lisa Altamirano (Gracy Title Sales Executive) were also present to personally congratulate the newly engaged couple.

At Gracy Title our staff constantly goes out of their way to make a positive impression on every customer to ensure everyone walks away feeling great about one of the biggest decisions in their lives, buying a home. On this day, we can honestly say that we were delighted to take the back seat to something much greater. We would like to send a special thanks to Tami, who not only served as the guide throughout the couple's home buying process, but was also responsible for helping Cortney with his elaborate plan to surprise the bride to be. Best wishes to Tanya and Cortney on your future together and thank you for choosing to share your big moment with us all.

1st Photo (top): Tanya, Cortney | 2nd Photo: The celebration begins! | 3rd Photo:  Tammy (sister), Delores (mother), Tanya  Cortney, Bob (father) | 4th Photo: Tami, Tanya  Cortney, Jeff | 5th Photo (bottom): Wanda, Tanya, Cortney

February 2013: Austin takes the No. 3 spot for Job growth with a five-year expected annual job-growth rate of 3.2 percent

  • Austin ranked number 3 for job growth on Forbes’ “Best Cities for Good Jobs” list
  • Austin’s Annual FIVE YEAR expected job-growth rate is projected to be 3.2% (trailing 12 months was 4.4% with 35,200 new jobs created!)
  • Per capita income of $35,222 and 5.2% unemployment (National average per capita income is $37,000 and US unemployment is 8%)
  • Texas took half of the top spots with Dallas ranking number 1, Houston number 2, Fort Worth number 4 and San Antonio number 6.
  • Texas benefits from being the “nation’s energy capital” with a booming shale revolution
  • Forbes used Moody’s Analytics data on the 100 largest metropolitan areas to compile the list.

January 2013: Austin tops Forbes' list of America's Fastest-Growing Cities for the third year in a row

  • Austin “is an economic powerhouse. With an estimated annual population growth rate of 3% for 2012 and 2013, a 3% rate of job growth in 2012, 4.9% unemployment, and an economy that expanded 6.3% last year, Austin takes the top spot on Forbes’ annual list of America’s Fastest Growing Cities for the third year in a row.
  • Texas welcomed more than 427,000 newcomers from August 2011 to July 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau
  • Texas cities dominated the list. Houston ranked second, behind Austin, followed by Dallas in third place and San Antonio in ninth.
  • Robust labor markets, unemployment rates under 6% (well below the national average), no state income tax, a business-friendly regulatory environment, and strong population inflows all contributed to Texas towns’ high rankings.

January 2013: Texas named 2012's top state by business magazine

  • Business Facilities magazine named Texas 2012 State of the Year for having “the most dynamic economy of any state in the nation."
  • Texas bounced back over pre-recession levels of job faster than anywhere else in the U.S.
  • Austin was also recognized for landing Apple Inc.'s new global operations center
  • Other states in the top five include Louisiana, South Carolina, Georgia and Utah.

January 2013: Austin named best city for job-seekers

  • NerdWallet looked at four factors (population growth, income, unemployment rate and cost of living) to determine that Austin was the best city for job seekers
  • Austin had the highest percent growth in population and the lowest unemployment rate
  • Austin’s median income is moderately high and the cost of living is low
  • Also highlighted was Austin’s tech industry including Dell, Apple, Google, IBM and the growing biotechnology field
  • Here’s the rankings of the top 10 cities:



% Change in Population

Median Income

Unemployment Rate

Cost of Living Index

Median 2-Bedroom Apt. Rent

Overall Score for Job Seekers


Austin, TX








Washington, DC








San Fran, CA








Denver, CO








Houston, TX








Fort Worth, TX








Dallas, TX








Seattle, WA








San Antonio, TX








Charlotte, NC







1. Percent change in population between April 1, 2010 and July 1, 2011 from the U.S. Census
2. Median income of residents (per person, not per household) from the U.S. Census
3. Unemployment rate from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2011 ranking
4. Cost of living index from the ACCRA cost of living index.  A score of 100 represents the national average

Highlights from the Statesman article on home sales:

  • Homes sales increased 33% over last year.
  • Median sales price increased 10% to $197,900.
  • Most homes sold in January (1,402) since 2007.
  • 20th straight month of rising sales.
  • Inventory in January was 2.5 months of supply, lowest in the last decade.
  • Listings were down 25% from last January while pending sales were up 25% with 2,045 sales in the pipeline.
  • Days On Market continue to decrease.

Read full article here:

I’m regularly asked for specific articles as to how Austin ranks regarding economic growth, jobs, startups, real estate and other factors. The ABJ has provided a great, updated list. I would also add the following link to a story from the Chamber showing Austin as the NUMBER ONE job market in the US with 4.4% growth rate and 35,300 new jobs in the last 12 months.

21 examples of Austin's economic might
Colin Pope  Editor- Austin Business Journal    Link to ABJ Article

Magazines, think tanks and list makers have ranked Austin high on some high-profile lists and reports during the past few months.

Here they are — most of them calculated upon hard economic data so we put stock in them.

Finally, in the interest of balanced journalism and to prove these list makers aren’t on the take, here are the rare occasions where Austin took a list beating during the past three months.

Austin ranked near the bottom on Forbes magazine's "Best Cities for Working Mothers" list.

And Austin comes in at No. 21 on a ranking of 25 major U.S. cities' public transit systems.

I know plenty of happy, working moms so I’ll take issue with Forbes on that one. The public transit issue? No comment.

Good update from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M on the state of the US real estate as reported at the International Homebuilder’s Show in Las Vegas.

  • Household (single family, condo, multi-family) units are now being created at the rate of 850,000 units per year vs a high of 1.4 during the peak and a low of 500,000
  • NAHB is forecasting 299,000 multifamily starts this year and 317,000 in 2014
  • Construction costs (labor and materials) are increasing rapidly.
  • Constraints on mortgage credit helps fuel more growth in multi-family (more renters instead of home buyers).
  • Demographics on Homebuyers:
    • Average home size has increased from 2,362 sf in 2009 to 2,524 sf in 2012.
    • 74 percent of NAHB’s survey respondents want a kitchen that opens to the family room either completely or with a half wall, and 65 percent want nine-foot ceilings on the first floor.
    • Energy Star-rated appliances topped the list of “most wanted” home features, with 94 percent of respondents rating them “essential/must have” or “desirable.” Laundry room was right behind at 93 percent, followed by Energy Star rating for whole home (91 percent), and bathroom exhaust fan, bathroom linen closet and exterior lighting (90 percent each).
    • Home technology features buyers would most like to have are wireless home security systems (50 percent), programmable thermostats (47 percent), security cameras (40 percent) and lighting control system (39 percent).

Source - RECON
Real Estate Center Online News
January 24, 2013