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East Austin : Here Comes The Neighborhood

Who is moving to East Austin?

This was a discussion I was having with one of the finance guys from Simmons Vedder at the recent launches for Mosaic Mueller – the new luxury apartment community at the Mueller development.

He didn’t say trendsters, hipsters and transplants, but he might as well have.

If you look at the chart on the left, you can see that compared to the rest of Austin, East Austin is home to a higher proportion of lower priced housing options.

What Are The Two Perceptions of East Austin?

We were talking about the public perception of East Austin, and it seems to split up into two camps. Those, like me, who move to Austin from other areas and see this really great area of relatively dense housing with some affordable homes close to the urban core of the City. And then there’s the other camp who have some historical biases.

Let’s back up and look at a little but of history. When I first came to Austin and someone showed me the proposed segregation map of Austin from 1928, I was pretty shocked. The dividing and segregating line between East and West Austin was East Avenue which became I35 in 1962. It wasn’t until 1964 that the Civil Rights Act was signed into law, and segregation became illegal.

Fast forward to this century, and many Austinites still haven’t discovered the changing nature of this side of town. Each year there’s an East Austin Studio Tour which brings people into the neighborhoods and each year there are articles about East side gentrification and how hipsters are taking over this part of town.

If you google “East Austin Real Estate”, you’ll come up with all sorts of articles about East Austin, notably Steve Crossland’s old blog – The Problem With East Austin Real Estate. It’s an oldie but a goodie. I like Steve’s blog and he has written more articles about East Austin subsequently, but that’s what people who don’t live in Austin are finding when they do their research.

In the last four months I’ve had nine people relocating to Austin ask me about the nature of life in East Austin. I explain that there are certain things that I can’t subectively comment on. I refer them to crime statistics, school information and house price reports.

I tell them that I used to live in a big city and that to me East Austin feels just like the inner city on the cusp of change. (Then again, I live in the Disneyland version of East Austin – the old airport redevelopment)

There are a bunch of new developments in East Austin – SOL Austin, the Mueller DevelopmentEast End Flats, and there are numerous smaller infill projects and remodels. The Holly Street power plant is going to be replaced by a park and Haskell St remains a subject of gentrification articles. Things in the area are changing, including house prices.

You can still buy a home in East Austin for under $150,000. You can now buy a home above $1m (when the custom 5 star green homes at Mueller are finished).

There is more inventory in East Austin than in other parts of town – in general I’d say that the market is still fairly balanced overall.

With 301 houses for sale in MLS areas 3 and 5, and 70 under contract, it might not be the sellers’ market of Northwest Austin. There are less than five months of inventory in many price ranges so it’s not a buyers’ market either.

People who come from out of town who are looking for affordable homes and easy access to the heart of Austin are still looking at East Austin.

Garreth Wilcock is a Realtor ® who lives in East Austin. He wrote this article in Clementine Cafe on Manor Road surrounded by hipsters. Search for East Austin real estate at his website, or comment if you have a different feeling of the area.

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