Archive for the ‘Buffington Signature Homes’ Tag

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

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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

Local Builders Continue Success in Troubled National Markets

Greater flexibility, area expertise and traditional customer service drive sales for one Austin builder

It seems like every week brings more headlines of bursting real estate bubbles and national homebuilders posting significant losses. Despite the shaky ground in many areas across the country, Austin’s real estate market is holding steady, thanks in part to a foundation of superior local homebuilders. While the number of home sales nationally continues to slide, Austin has shown a month-to-month increase so far this year. In total 12,072 homes were sold in the first six months of 2008, with a single-month high of 2,410 homes sold in June. In that time, the average sales price in Austin has actually increased over last year, in part because of the quality of new homes on the market.

One such local builder is Buffington Signature Homes. The company is the newest venture from long-time Austin builder and investor, Tom Buffington, whose list of credentials includes Buffington Capital, a leading area acquisition and development company, and Buffington Homes, which became the second largest builder in Austin before being sold to a national firm in the late 1990s.

Today, Buffington Signature Homes represents a shift back to the roots of Austin homebuilding, with a locally-owned, locally-managed company that specializes in building distinctive communities throughout the Austin area. Many of the national volume builders are pulling back their productions throughout the region, allowing companies like Buffington to step in and hand-pick prime locations in the best communities.

The key to this ability is the leadership team’s unprecedented knowledge of the Austin area and eye for the factors that make a community succeed. “There’s a big difference between market research and market expertise,” explained James Giddens, President of Buffington Signature Homes. “Lots of communities look good on paper, but it takes an understanding of local tastes, needs and lifestyles to know which ones will truly succeed.”

The same holds true for home designs. While many volume builders simply rearrange layouts or change the exterior colors from location to location, Buffington’s design team carefully crafted each floor plan to best suit the needs and style of the Austin market. As those styles and needs change, the company can also adapt more quickly to better meet their customer’s expectations.

“Since all of our communities are within a few minutes drive of our corporate offices, the leadership team has a much better understanding of how our products are selling and what our customers think about their homes,” said Grant Whittenberger, Vice President of Sales for Buffington Signature Homes. “If there’s any problem with a design or feature, we can correct it immediately to ensure that our customers remain satisfied. And if one design is particularly successful, we can find out why and develop new designs that will appeal to our clients for the same reasons.”

This flexibility is another key factor in Buffington Signature Homes’ continued growth. A recent report indicates that the price of building materials increased by more than 10% from 2007 to 2008, with no signs of slowing. The flexibility to change designs and features or to develop relationships with new vendors, allows Buffington to maintain prices in a volatile market. Additionally, most of those materials come from vendors right here in Austin, so customers aren’t footing the bill for the shipping company’s diesel.

In their effort to keep costs as low as possible, many volume builders use a practice called “value engineering.” More often than not, that’s a nice way of saying “cutting corners.” But Buffington’s homes utilize quality materials and traditional building practices that were phased out by most national builders long ago. Each home features engineered foundations and frames, as well as full wind-bracing and half-inch OSB wrapping to protect against cracking walls and sticking doors or windows. The roofs are all traditionally framed and the interiors feature deep floor trusses. The three-quarter-inch sub-flooring is attached with screws and glue to create incredibly solid floors that are less likely to squeak or bounce.

“The key is to make sure we do it right the first time,” explains Whittenberger. “A little extra work during the construction stage means less work for us in the long run and less daily maintenance for our customers after they move in. Most of our leadership team has worked with the national firms, so we understand where their processes fall short. We spent a lot of time on product development, making sure our designs and our features picked up where the others guys left off.”

As part of that commitment to quality, every Buffington Signature Home comes with something they call Signature Features: more than 90 high-end fixtures, finishes and features that are included standard in every home. Signature Features include a 3rd car garage (homesite permitting), island kitchens with granite countertops and custom cabinets, rounded corners, energy efficient appliances, covered patios and fully sodded yards, all standard in the price of the home. Customers can also choose from a collection of Signature Options, optional designs and features to further personalize their homes.

And there’s one more factor that’s often overlooked by the national builders: the importance of community interaction. More than simple advertising or branding, local builders are active members of their community. From the ball fields to school activities, Buffington Signature Homes strives to help the community organizations around them.

“Obviously, when you work for a company, you’re invested in its success,” said Whittenberger, “but since we live here, we’re also invested in the success of the community and the city. That makes a big difference in the way a company operates.”

Buffington Signature Homes currently offers homes in several highly sought-after communities in the Austin area: Silver Leaf, located just off Gattis School Road in Round Rock; Forest Oaks, located near 183A and 1431 in Cedar Park; and two premier South Austin communities, The Bridges at Bear Creek and Southpark Meadows. Later this year, Buffington will also launch sales in Teravista, located in Round Rock, and Belterra, located just minutes west of Austin on US-290.

For more information on Buffington Signature Homes, visit http://www.BuffingtonSignatureHomes.com or stop by their model homes in Silver Leaf or Forest Oaks.

The Forest Oaks Sales Center
1200 Shiloh St.
Cedar Park, TX 78613

Silver Leaf Sales Center
209 Aspen Trail
Round Rock, TX 78664

Hours of Operation
Monday – Thursday & Saturday, 10am to 7pm
Friday & Sunday, 11am to 7pm

About Buffington Signature Homes
Buffington Signature Homes is dedicated to building homes that will last a lifetime. A locally owned company with a wealth of experience, Buffington Signature Homes combines innovative floor plans, skilled craftsmanship and an exceptional buying experience to deliver homes with value that each and every customer is proud to live in. Proudly building fine communities and new homes in South Austin, Round Rock and Cedar Park.  Home prices vary per community, from the $210’s to the mid $300’s, ranging in size from 2000 to 3700 sq ft with new plans in development to go over 4000 sq ft.

Media Contact:
Grant Whittenberger
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
512.762.1315

Important Tips for Finding a High Quality Home

by Grant Whittenberger

Buffington Signature Homes shares details on finding a new home that will last.

May 5, 2008 — Home Buying Season is in full swing and eager buyers are out touring new homes in Austin. But when it comes time to compare similar looking homes in similar locations, the most important features may not be so apparent.

Once you’ve settled on a specific neighborhood or area, it’s important to begin comparing the construction standards and features available from each of the homebuilders in that area. Grant Whittenberger, Vice President of Sales for Buffington Signature Homes, has gladly offered up a list of the most important features you should ask about to ensure the home you’re looking at is a keeper.

The Foundation

First, find out what kind of foundation the homes have. The soil in Central Texas is notorious for causing shifting and cracking in home foundations, which leads to sloping floors, cracked walls and sticky windows and doors. All of the foundations in Buffington’s homes are designed and approved by an engineer to ensure they remain stable and intact for the life of your home.

The Roof

The second most important part of a home after the foundation is the roof. Poorly framed roofs can lead to leaking and buckling on the outside, as well as cracking and nails that push through ceilings on the inside. While many volume builders use pre-fabricated roof trusses, Buffington’s homes feature traditionally framed trusses, where a little extra effort can ensure a much more stable and secure roof.

The Framing

The way a new home is framed also plays an important role in the overall stability and character of its construction. Buffington’s homes feature fully engineered, wind-braced frames. The extra bracing prevents the home from racking or twisting in higher winds, where even the slightest movement can lead to cracking walls and stuck doors or windows. The interior and exterior of these walls are wrapped in heavy-duty, half-inch OSB board, further preventing movement and also adding an extra layer of noise insulation. Additionally, all structural beams are sized by an engineer for proper load ratings, protecting against beams that are too small (and unstable) or too big (and unnecessarily expensive).

The Flooring

Many buyers are concerned with the floor coverings in a new home, but what’s underneath them can be even more important. To cut costs, many builders use pre-fabricated I-joists to build their floors, which can lead to floors that bounce and squeak. But Buffington’s floors are built with 16-inch-deep trusses, the deepest flooring support. The trusses are spaced 24 inches apart throughout the home, with just 16 inches of space master bedrooms and game rooms where the loads are typically heavier. On top of that, the homes feature three-quarter-inch tongue-and-groove sub-floors that are secured with screws and industrial adhesive, ensuring against squeaking, bouncing and those annoying nails that can stick up beneath floor coverings. Deeper floors and heavier sub-flooring also add extra noise insulation between floors.

Interior Walls

When it comes to framing the interior walls, builders can cut costs by cutting back on materials and labor. Many builders frame interior walls with studs spaced 24-inches apart where the code permits, but Buffington’s homes are built with 16-inch centers throughout. The closer spacing adds stability and further protects against cracking and shifting as the home ages. They also secure all sheetrock with screws instead of nails, preventing against nails that can push through walls and ceilings over time.

Inspections

Throughout this entire building process, Buffington Signature Homes requires four separate, independent inspections on the structure of the home. With two separate inspections on the foundation, one at the framing stage and one final inspection when the home is complete, Buffington can ensure the structural integrity of their homes, and they’ll give you the paperwork to prove it.

These are just a few examples of the many ways that volume builders can cut corners and save money at the homeowner’s expense. But for Buffington, the extra effort and extra materials are a part of creating homes that their customers are proud to live in. A little hard work during construction can virtually eliminate the daily maintenance that many homebuyers find themselves stuck with in a new home.

Background

Buffington Signature Homes is the newest homebuilding venture from veteran Austin builder and developer, Tom Buffington. The company currently builds in two of the area’s premier communities; Silver Leaf in Round Rock and Forest Oaks in Cedar Park. Later this summer, Buffington will begin offering homes in Austin at The Bridges of Bear Creek and Southpark Meadows. Even in these highly competitive areas for new homes, Buffington Signature Homes stands out from the crowd with these important distinctions.

Buffington recently opened their first sales center at Silver Leaf. The Silver Leaf Sales Center offers customers a chance to experience the builder’s quality construction and innovative floorplans in person, and the sales staff is on hand every day to help interested buyers find their new home. In May, they will also open a model in Forest Oaks, located just off the new 183A toll road in Cedar Park, with two more models coming later this summer at The Bridges of Bear Creek and Southpark Meadows in Austin.

For more information on Buffington Signature Homes, visit www.BuffingtonSignatureHomes.com/aas or visit the Silver Leaf Sales Center at:
209 Aspen Trail,
Round Rock, TX 78664.