Austin’s March Real Estate News Roundup

Another Property Tax Proposal: Everyone wants a property tax break. But should homeowners with lower-priced homes get a little sweeter tax cut? That seems to be at the crux of a legislative debate in Austin over a homestead exemption proposed by House Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin. It’s chances of making it to the governor’s desk appear slim, according to a piece in the Austin American-Statesman, but it’s an important debate as Austin and other cities debate homestead exemptions as a way to reduce the growing property tax burden.

Shake-Up in Austin’s Planning Department: If you’ve ever had a gripe with the City of Austin Planning and Development Review Department, here’s a little more ammo: A recent audit reported in the Austin American-Statesman describes the department as “understaffed, poorly managed and riddled with inefficiencies.” The solution, city officials told the paper, is a reorganization that splits the planning part of the department from the development portion.

Like You Needed More Evidence of Austin’s Growth: The latest in a long string of reports identifying Austin as one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States ranks Austin as the third fastest-growing cities. The new Census report puts Austin behind number one The Villages, Florida, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, according to a report in the Austin Business Journal.

Nationally, Home Sales in Midwest and West Bolster Pending Sales Figures: It’s easy to forget in Austin that the real estate market isn’t quite this hot everywhere else. In fact, southern states posted a decline in pending sales in February, according to a recent analysis by the National Association of Realtors. 

You Might Be Reading This in Traffic: People across the United States are getting farther and farther away from their jobs. A new Brookings study found that between 2000 and 2012, the number of jobs within the typical commute distance for residents in a major metro area fell by 7 percent. Brookings analysis sought to find how many jobs there are within a given distance of particular Census tracts. While each of the 96 cities Brookings looked at has its own story, there are strong themes. For example, people living in suburban areas saw the number of jobs within a typical commute distance drop by 7 percent. That’s about double the decline other city residents saw.