Episode 70, Part 1: Why You Should Consider Downtown Living
Andrew Thurston of Supreme Lending sits down with Noa Levy of Boutique Real Estate to discuss the often-overlooked perks of living in the heart of downtown Austin.
What's the type of mindset of people looking to move downtown?
"Most people are looking to downsize," Noa Levy says. "Or, they're empty-nesters or looking for a change in lifestyle. That's definitely something to consider, because up in the suburbs you have your larger square-foot home, and then you're coming downtown to a more communal setting living in a building with a lot of other people and reducing your square footage by a lot."
"You could still get a large residence downtown, though I imagine they're a bit more pricey than what you'd get in the suburbs," Andrew adds.
"At the top end, there's the Austonian and these luxury buildings - the high end of those prices are getting into the $800-$1000 per square foot," Noa says. "So if you wanted that same amount of space as a suburban home, you'd end up having to pay up to around $3 million."
What are some perks of living downtown?
"If you think about it, you have this huge yard - you have Lake Austin, you have the trails, and downtown becomes your little playground and you can go anywhere you want and find a bar, a restaurant, a grocery store - pretty soon there will be a big library, and it's just a vibrant part of the city."
"A lot of folks work downtown too, so you could have that," Andrew says. "I go and visit the Northeast and New York City occasionally, and I think in Austin we are kind of coming to that point where we can live and play and work all in the same place."
"I'll use myself as a good example - I've been living downtown for 12 years, and I absolutely love it," Noa says. "I have two children, and we love the lifestyle - it's great to be able to walk out and go feed the ducks, bike the trail, go to the BMX park. We don't feel that we're missing out on the suburban lifestyle - instead, we're getting a totally different way of growing up for our children. Granted, it is in small quarters, but we think the trade-off is something very unique."
How is the population broken down into downtown areas?
"I don't think it's broken down into certain areas - but I think something to consider no matter your age group is to find out what type of lifestyle you want in the building you're considering," Noa explains. "There are buildings with a tons of ameninties, like a gym and pool and concierge; and there are some that are very small and private and maybe you don't need those amenities.
Location is something to consider, too - as downtown has been building, it has created separate areas. There's the market district near Whole Foods, Rainey Street, the entertainment district, and all those areas give off different vibes.
What's the range of pricing for living downtown?
"There is a side of downtown that is very affordable - you can get a one or two-bedroom ranging from $300/square foot to $500/square foot, which is more of the norm. Some of those buildings on the lower end might be a little older - the $500-600 range will probably be in a newer building and be closer to some of these brand new ones like Seaholm and the Independent that are both coming up."
"That's really interesting," Andrew says. "I visit a lot of open houses all over the city and I see a lot of houses even in the suburbs that are close to $300/square foot or more, so that's cool to know you can get a property as affordable downtown than living in the suburbs."
"Another thing to consider with rentals: Some of these rental buildings have rents at $3,000 or $4,000 - that could be your mortgage!" Noa says.
What about renting?
"Last year we had a lot more people renting - the occupancy rate was 96%, and they're not inexpensive rentals. Now with all these new buildings that have come online, I've seen a lot more homeowner occupants occupying those buildings, and a lot more rental buildings have come up," Noa explains.
"If you're looking to buy downtown, those are considerations like the occupancy rate, how many investors are there, and other details about condo communities that affect warrantability, meaning it may affect your loan."