Archive for the ‘austin’ Category

Overview of Austin Housing Market

With the recent economic turmoil, many consumers may find the idea of building a home too risky. While that risk is subtantiated in some markets, overall the housing market is relatively stable and growing. This is especially true in the Austin real estate market, which continues to stand out as one of the best in the country. In contrast to the national housing and lending dilemmas, the Austin market continues to show strong numbers in relation to accumulated inventory, home purchases and overall home values.

During 2008, the Austin real estate market slowed down in response to the credit crisis affecting the country. (3) The collapse of the subprime mortgage market has led to more restrictive mortgage qualification standards, including the elimination of many down payment assistance programs and higher equity requirements for jumbo loans. The outlook may appear grim, but Austin shows more than one sign of changing that image. (1)

In the Austin area, the housing inventory stands at a 6.3-month supply, just over the standard equilibrium of 6.0 and much lower than the whopping 10.9-month supply nationally. What does this mean? It shows that our region remains relatively unharmed by the current economic crisis. It is estimated that the national real estate economy will show signs of recovery within the next three to five years. This is in stark contrast to Austin’s real estate market, which is expected to recover within the next 18 to 24 months. Signs of recovery will begin to show by next summer.
The continued strength of Austin’s housing market now is in large part due to builders making up for the slowing economy. Record numbers of homes were built in Central Texas just two years ago, providing a large inventory of homes that went unsold. This led to a dramatic decrease in new homes built the following two years. While this is an unfavorable position for builders, it is great for consumers. Increased inventory and slowing sales lead to great buyer incentives from builders hoping to get consumers into their homes. These incentives can range from free upgrades and appliances, to extended warranties and services, to large discounts that can save consumers a substantial amount of money on their loans and down payments. Opportunities like this will not last long, though and most will fade quickly as the economy regains strength. (2)

The estimates of a quicker recovery, combined with the availability of current inventory and builders’ willingness to sell for lower prices led the experts at Forbes magazine to name Austin one of just three cities in the country to “Buy Now.”(1)

Behind the raw numbers of home sales, remaining inventory and solid values, experts are looking at the strength of Austin’s job market. As a leading region for technology and research-based jobs, the Austin boasts a strong supply of new jobs, plenty of residents with dependable salaries and strong credit, and a strong cultural atmosphere that attracts new talent. Much like the Dot-Com bust in 2000, the current economic crisis has left Austin relatively untouched when compared to other parts of the nation. The city’s unique blend of great weather, distinctive culture and entertainment, and continued job growth and economic strength help Austin hold its place as one of the best places to buy. Add to that the benefits of increased inventory and many builders offering incentives to maintain their sales, now is a great time build your home in Austin.

Sources
1. Shonda Novak, Kate Morton. “Credit Crunch Squeezes Central Texas Home Starts.” American Statesman. Oct. 2008. Statesman. 12 Oct. 2008.
2. “Austin Builders Are Cutting Back, Confident of Rebound.” American Statesman. Oct. 2008. Statesman. 17 Oct. 2008.
3. Roselind Hejl “Real Estate Market Update.” Roselind Hejl’s Austin Real Estate Guide. Oct. 2008. 9 Oct. 2008.

www.buffingtonsignaturehomes.com

Buffington’s Guide to Living & Buying in Austin

Join local Austin homebuilder, Buffington Signature Homes, for a tour of the ins and outs of buying a new home in the capital city! Where to buy, what to look for, where it’s hot and where it’s cool!

There are lots of great places to live in Austin. Use these tips to find the perfect neighborhood and home for your lifestyle!

1. North, South, East & West—head any direction from downtown Austin and you’ll discover four distinctive areas of town, each with their own character and atmosphere.

  • North: North Austin and Round Rock are home to many of the region’s biggest employers, with great shopping, accessibility and family-friendly living.
  • South: The original home of “Keep Austin Weird”! South Austin offers a unique experience of the culture and style that made the city famous.
  • East: Enjoying a resurgence in economic development and investment, East Austin is home to great historical neighborhoods, arts and eateries.
  • West: As you head west, the city gives way to the Texas Hill Country. With grand hillside homes and nearby access to Lake Travis, life is good in the west.

2. Major Roads & Highways. Several major roads make getting around town a lot easier… unless you catch them at the wrong time.

  • I-35: The main North/South thoroughfare, I-35 bisects the city just east of Downtown. Connected to just about everything, but beware of rush hour traffic and backups.
  • Mopac / Loop 1: Also running North/South, Mopac loops west of downtown and can be faster and less congested than I-35.
  • 183/183-A: Running southeast to northwest, 183 takes you from the airport, north of Downtown into North Austin. From there, the 183-A toll road offers easy access from Cedar Park and Leander.
  • 290 / 71 / Ben White Blvd: Running East-West from the airport into the Hill Country, Ben White connect South Austin to I-35 and Mopac.

3. Schools. Austin area schools are consistently ranked among the best in the state and even the country. For the top rated public schools in the area, check out the Eanes School District in West Austin, and the Round Rock and Leander ISDs. There are also several highly-rated independent and church-affiliated private schools throughout the city.

4. Colleges & Universities. Austin is perhaps best known as the home of the University of Texas. UT sits right in the middle of the city, just north of the Capital, with nationally ranked undergraduate, graduate and adult education programs. Just south of the river, St. Edwards University is a private, Roman Catholic university known for quality liberal arts programs. Several Austin Community Collage campuses can be found throughout the city, offering quality undergraduate and adult programs, as well as Early College Start programs for high school students.

5. Live Music & Events. “The Live Music Capital of the World” is home to more than 200 live music venues and over 1,900 local musicians! On any given night, you can find incredible live music on the world-famous 6th Street or nearby in the Warehouse District, another growing entertainment area. Local favorites for live performances include Stubb’s BBQ, Auditorium Shores and the newly completed Austin Music Hall. You can also check out hundreds of local and national acts every spring at South by Southwest (SXSW) and at Austin City Limits Music Festival in late summer.

6. Parks & Lakes. The city’s parks, greenbelts and lakes offer endless possibilities for outdoor fun. Barton Springs is a popular attraction, at an average temperature of 68° year round! Lady Bird Lake and Lake Travis offer great places for boating and skiing, and miles of hike & bike trails throughout the city are perfect for exercise and leisure. The most popular outdoor destination is Zilker Park, located along the south shore of Lady Bird Lake. Zilker Park is home to a popular dog park, the famous Barton Springs Pool as well as one of the largest trailheads leading into the Barton Creek greenbelt.

7. Sports. Great sports action is never far away, with UT athletics throughout the school year, as well as the Austin Aztex USL soccer team and the Round Rock Express baseball team, affiliate of the Houston Astros! Coming in 2009 or 2010, the Texas Stars AHL hockey team will hit the ice in Cedar Park as the top affiliate of the Dallas Stars NHL franchise.

8. Temperature & Climate. Bring your sunscreen! Austin averages 300 days of sunshine per year, with hot summers and mild winters. The coldest month in Austin is typically January, with overnight lows averaging 40°. In the summers, late July and August are typically the hottest, with average daytime temperatures in the mid to upper 90s.

9. Shopping. Key shopping centers for the area include Southpark Meadows and Barton Creek Mall in South Austin, La Frontera and the Round Rock Premium Outlets in Round Rock, as well as Lakeline Mall and the new 1890 Ranch in Cedar Park. For great local boutiques and arts, check out the great clothing and vintage stores on South Congress, as well as “The Drag” on Guadalupe near the UT campus.

10. Dining. Whatever kind of food or atmosphere you’re in the mood for, there are great places to eat all over the city. Find your own favorite neighborhood eatery or look for local favorites scattered across town, like Chuy’s Tex-Mex, Gumbo’s Louisiana Style Cafe, Austin Java, Amy’s Ice Cream and Rudy’s Country Store & BBQ.

Buffington Signature Homes is locally owned and operated in Austin, proudly building new homes in the most sought-after communities in South Austin, Round Rock and Cedar Park. Dedicated to building homes that will last a lifetime, Buffington combines innovative floor plans, skilled craftsmanship and an exceptional buying experience to deliver homes that each and every customer is proud to live in.

http://www.buffingtonsignaturehomes.com

How to Make Your Website Stand Out

How to Make Your Website Stand Out
Published in the AMA Bulletin
by John Wilkinson, JH&A Advertising

Today the Internet hosts over 92,000,000 websites. How can you make yours stand out while displaying your products or services in the most compelling light? Here are some tips from an industry expert that will help you build a better site that effectively communicates your message.

Robert Cowesvisit northern rail is an expert at creating websites that spotlight products and drive success. He most recently worked at S1 Corporation as the Web Technologies Product Manager and is co-founder of the consulting firm, Intra-Focus Marketing Solutions.

According to Cowes, a successful site considers six critical elements: audience, objective, layout, navigation, content and imagery. It is important for web-based marketers to understand who will be using the site and for what purpose. “People surf the web to research, learn and purchase products. Content addressing these three topics is crucial,” said Cowes.

When a potential customer or client visits a site, they should be greeted by an intuitive “master plan” or site map. A >site map helps visitors quickly and easily navigate to the information they are looking for.

Well thought-out navigation helps create a positive experience for the visitor. Highly visible headers and simple icons should smoothly guide the visitor from page to page. In addition, rotating content not only gives marketers a chance to share more information, it keeps visitors interested and informed. Finally, relevant imagery reinforces your company’s
brand positioning and messaging. “An analogy is a store front,” Cowes explains. “As with retail, your window dressing helps customers decide whether they will enter or pass you by.” Encourage browsers to stop with interesting graphics that complement your brand, enhance your image and provide valuable information not readily available elsewhere.

cranes pond brandingSo you’ve made some website improvements, but how can you know if they work? Consider a call to action. Requesting a response makes recording site traffic easier. For example, a toll-free number and an e-form are useful tools. Ask your visitors, “How did you hear about us?” or “Do you have any comments?”

Eventually, there should be a correlation between the number of page views your web site receives and the number of inquiry forms submitted.

By carefully considering your audience and objective, you can create content, imagery, a layout and a navigation system tailored to their needs while also improving product awareness. Next month there will be over 96,000,000 websites. Are you achieving your fair share of visits?

About Intra-Focus

Intra-Focus is a full-service marketing company that integrates art and technology to deliver traditional and Internet marketing solutions. Leveraging marketing expertise and trend setting creativity, Intra-Focus helps its clients build brand strategy and market presence that generate qualified demand and quantifiable results. Intra-Focus provides innovative marketing solutions to businesses ranging in size from start-up to Fortune 500.

For more information on Intra-Focus’s marketing services, please contact: Robert Cowes Products & Services Principal
512.930.5558
rcowes[at]intra-focus.com.

The Truth About SEO

Your site and the new generation of organic search technology.

By Robert Cowes (Products & Services Principal) & Clay Delk (Marketing Communications Writer) at Intra-Focus, Inc.

Unlike any other advertising medium, a successful internet presence can make or break businesses in almost any field. As internet presence, marketing and sales become a more integral part of business success, the degree of web presence and the process of “search marketing” have become more valuable than ever. Search engine optimization is still very much an emerging art, but its importance has grown exponentially over the last decade.

Early incarnations of search engines and search marketing were much different than today’s standard. To place high in rankings, business owners simply needed to place a handful of metatags or descriptors into their web page headers. Today’s search engines utilize a much more advanced combination of factors–or algorithm–to determine the best web pages. While metatags are still important, these new algorithms also take into account factors like specific copy and word choice, links from outside sites, submissions to online directories and regular content updates.

These elements combine in what is now called an organic search engine because the final results tend to be pages that are not only directly related, but have also grown to become highly regarded authorities on the subject. The search engine companies regularly reconfigure their algorithms every 3 to 6 months making this combination of factors even more difficult to decipher. Since each is a publicly traded company, they are continually working to maintain an edge over each other and over businesses trying to make the most of their sites.

In addition, regularly changing the algorithms helps ensure that the company’s own pay-per-click services remain useful and effective. These services will place a sponsor’s link at the top or along the side of the website for specific searches. These services work well for quick, dependable placement, but can also become very expensive.

All of these factors have combined to make search engine optimization a very complex and time-consuming element of a successful web presence. Some of the top companies offering SEO services charge anywhere from $5,000 – $10,000 for set up and another $300 to $5,000 a month to maintain the website. A recent survey of industry professionals found that over half (64%) of all businesses that outsource search marketing fail to implement the SEO companies’ recommendations. The major reasons for this failure stem from a lack of human resources and budgetary allocations required to optimize and maintain a successful web presence.

Fortunately, Intra-Focus now offers organic search marketing services with a proactive approach to website maintenance, linking campaigns and regular content updates. This new service is different from our previous treatment campaigns because we can now actively work to maintain and improve your web presence on a monthly basis–not only improving your original search ranking, but continuing to grow your web presence organically.

About Intra-Focus, Inc.
Intra-Focus, Inc. is a full-service marketing company that integrates art and technology to deliver traditional and Internet marketing solutions. Leveraging marketing expertise and trend setting creativity, Intra-Focus helps its clients build brand strategy and market presence that generate qualified demand and quantifiable results. Intra-Focus provides innovative marketing solutions to businesses ranging in size from start-up to Fortune 500.