Reposting a great article concerning MUDs

Municipal utility districts continue to grow outside Round Rock; annexation unlikely

As a matter of necessity, the employees of the Round Rock Public Library have become experts on city residency laws.

That is because with increasing frequency the city’s librarians have found themselves informing first-time visitors that they are not actually residents of the city of Round Rock but instead reside within a municipal utility district, or MUD. The discrepancy in addresses not only affects people’s ability to gain a free library card, but also the property taxes they pay, the fire and police services they receive and in which elections they are allowed to participate.

“We have a lot of people … who don’t know they are purchasing a house in a MUD or understand what a municipal utility district is,” Round Rock Library Director Michelle Cervantes said.

There are approximately 37,000 people living in the 13 MUDs that lie within the city of Round Rock’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, or ETJ—unincorporated areas the city holds the rights to annex but is under no obligation to do so.

Those living within the MUDs share the same Round Rock mailing address as the city’s residents but are excluded from municipal services such as police, fire department and water services as well as street maintenance. If a family living in a MUD wishes to obtain a city of Round Rock library card, the family is required to pay a $40 annual fee—a service that is free for city residents—and if the family uses a city pool or signs up for a parks and recreation program, it pays nonresident rates.

Another surprise to many new MUD residents comes in the form of taxes. Because MUDs fund and maintain their own water and wastewater infrastructures, their property tax rates can more than double Round Rock’s. In addition, MUD residents must also pay a Williamson County emergency services district tax for fire protection, and in some cases, separate homeowners association fees for parks and pools maintenance.

“When you buy a home in a utility district, you actually get a form that is called a notice of disclosure, [that informs people they are living in a MUD]” said Mike Petter, general manager for the Brushy Creek MUD.

“But the reality is it is one of [approximately] 40 forms you sign when you close on your property. So people move in and they look at the mailing address that says Round Rock, and they assume that is where they live. The reality is that is just where the post office is.”

Defining a MUD

By its most basic definition, a MUD is a funding mechanism used to spur residential development.

Created by either the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality or by an act of the Texas Legislature, MUDs are technically state-regulated water districts. Individual MUDs are overseen by an elected board of directors that is responsible for the management, finances and policies within the MUD’s defined area.

“When these MUDs are created, they issue debt to help develop their own infrastructure,” Round Rock Finance Director Cheryl Delaney said. “They are their own taxing entity. They usually provide their own water, wastewater and solid waste services. They are kind of like a mini city themselves.”

The advantage of MUDs for developers lies in the districts’ ability to take on debt by issuing bonds. The bonds allow developers to pass on the cost of building road and water infrastructure to the future homeowners, who pay off the MUD’s bond debt with property tax revenue.

Cities such as Round Rock also benefit from the residential populations MUDs bring into their immediate area. Essentially, MUD residents help build up the city’s commercial property and sales tax bases by providing a workforce and consumers while at the same time saving the city the cost of funding police, fire and municipal services to new neighborhoods.

“The common knowledge is that cities typically lose money on rooftops,” said Mike Freeman, owner of Mike Freeman Properties, a Round Rock real estate firm. “If any development wants to happen outside [the city limits], it’s pretty much going to need to be a MUD.”

Benefits of a MUD

There are approximately 15,000 people residing within the Brushy Creek MUD in Round Rock’s southwestern ETJ. Founded in 1977, Brushy Creek’s board of directors has injected millions of dollars into the district’s parks, recreation and infrastructure.

Rebecca Tullos, a Brushy Creek resident since 1992, has served on the board of directors off and on for 10 years and as board president since 2012. Tullos believes some of the advantages of living in a MUD include a closer-knit community and greater access to parks and recreation.

“The quality of life for our residents is at the top of the list of goals for the board of directors,” Tullos said.

Williamson County Commissioner Lisa Birkman is also a resident of Brushy Creek and formerly served on the district’s board of directors.

“Generally speaking, it’s a great place to raise your kids,” she said. “Usually the MUDs are a little more affluent neighborhoods with really nice homes and a good quality of life for living here.”

By financing MUDs’ infrastructure through bonds, developers are also able to lower housing costs by avoiding the impact fees cities charge for new construction. Homeowners are also usually allowed to use their MUD property tax payments as a deduction on their federal income taxes.

Enforcement

As a county commissioner representing many of the MUDs in Round Rock’s unincorporated areas, Birkman said she often deals with residents frustrated with the lack of regulations in the districts. Birkman has dealt with a wide range of complaints, ranging from semitrailers being parked on residential streets to the use of fireworks to poorly maintained yards and houses. In most cases, however, the county is limited in its ability to act on residential complaints in the unincorporated areas.

“State laws are written to give certain protections for neighborhoods in cities, not [in ETJs],” Birkman said. “If you live in many places in Texas where [land] is unincorporated, it is just farmland and rural, so those restrictions aren’t needed. But we are under different circumstances in a MUD.”

For most residents living in MUDs, their ability to uphold standards in their neighborhood is limited to whether they belong to a homeowners association, or HOA. As opposed to city ordinances, which carry police authority, however, an HOA’s powers are limited to fines and warning letters.

“You don’t have police power with an HOA,” Freeman said. “With the city of Round Rock, if I try to park my car on the grass, they drive by and write me a ticket and tell me to move my car. In an HOA, they notify [residents] and tell them they have a time period to rectify the situation.”

Annexation

While the residents and leadership of the MUDs surrounding Round Rock have worked in different ways to improve their amenities and quality of life, many recognize there would be advantages to being annexed into the city of Round Rock.

The city of Round Rock, however, has never annexed a MUD, and if it were ever to do so it would require a significant analysis of the costs and benefits of what could be gained by adding hundreds, if not thousands, of new rooftops to the city.

The obstacles to annexation for MUDs are numerous.

For one, MUDs are built on debt used to pay for their infrastructure. If the city were to annex a MUD, state law mandates the city would also assume any debt the district was carrying. There are also the additional factors of the city taking on the financial burden of maintaining any parks and recreation systems the respective MUDs have created. Finally, the city would have to consider the cost of the additional police and fire services.

Much of the costs for maintaining these services within the city of Round Rock are offset by commercial property and sales taxes. MUDs, however, typically contain little to no commercial properties.

The Teravista communities are divided into three MUDs—two located within Round Rock’s northern ETJ and one within Georgetown’s ETJ. Founded in 1998, the districts’ management has developed a long-term strategy it believes could one day help the chance of its residents being annexed. In Teravista, all of the costs of building and maintaining the pools, parks and golf course are funded by the HOA, not the MUD, as is the case in Brushy Creek.

“Where it makes it sometimes challenging for cities to annex districts is when districts get a little bit convoluted with the recreation stuff,” said Rainer Ficken, senior project manager for Newland Communities, the developer for Teravista. “That is why we purposely keep [Teravista MUDs] focused only on providing the water and wastewater and drainage infrastructure.

“Long term, when the city does enter the point they would want to annex that area, they are truly just annexing the utilities. … The city is not taking over any of the swimming pools or open space or amenities.”

Before considering annexing a MUD, the city of Round Rock will also have to determine the costs and benefits to the residents already living within the city’s limits. For a MUD such as Brushy Creek, which currently carries a debt of more than $40 million and an annual operating budget of $11 million, the chances of annexation are “zero,” Round Rock Mayor Alan McGraw said.

“It boils down to the dollars-and-cents discussion,” he said. “If you bring [MUDs] in and the services and debt far outweigh the revenue, then it is the rest of the city that is having to make up the difference, and that is not fair to them.”

by 

August 1, 2013

818 Cactus – Prime Location under $160,000

818 Cactus is located in a prime spot in Round Rock.  It’s just minutes from downtown, toll roads, and I-35.  You can get to Austin in 20 minutes, Georgetown in 15 minutes, and Cedar Park in 10 minutes.  There isn’t another home on the market that can claim that in this price range.  Built in the late ’70s, this 1,475-sf home also boasts a large back yard, mature oak trees, and no HOA restrictions.

01 Front

Gorgeous curb appeal and mature oak tree.

Possibly the most overlooked feature of this home is the amount of upgrades and renovations done very recently.  The main updates include two fully remodeled bathrooms, granite counter in the kitchen, fresh paint, and recent carpet. An original wood-burning fire place, large rear covered deck, and a large tool shed complete this home.  You must see this to believe.

02 Kitchen

Upgraded kitchen includes granite counters and detailed back splash.

04 Living

Nice modern setting incorporates classic fireplace and mantle.

08 Master Bath

Fully renovated bathroom ready for your enjoyment.

If you’d like a private showing or are in the market for a similar home, feel free to contact me here.

818 Cactus – Upgrades

2311 Paradise Ridge – The Name Says it All

What's more appealing - this street view or the price?

Welcome to Paradise…Ridge.  Located in the wonderful Sonoma neighborhood, 2311 Paradise Ridge is a great home with many bedrooms, a fantastic game room, and a huge back yard that extends the outdoor living of the covered patio.  Well-cared for and well-maintained, this 2,831 sf home is move-in ready and comes in at just under $230,000, making it a steal for someone willing to live without top-notch upgrades.  If you like picking out your own appliances, granite counters, and wood floors, you will still end up spending less money than the competition.

Solid home can be easily upgraded with less cost.

The first floor is open and laid out great with the formal dining room connected to the kitchen and the kitchen overlooking the breakfast area and living room.  Hard tile makes clean up simple and you’ll never have to worry about replacing it.

Sink placement is usually an afterthought. Not here.

This home contains a true bedroom for masters.  It could fit a king-size bed, two night stands, two dressers, a tv unit,  and still have more than enough space by the bay window for a super cozy reading nook.  Although technically a four bedroom house, the bottom floor is best served as an office due to the absence of a full bathroom downstairs.  The second and third bedrooms share a Jack-and-Jill bathroom and have their own walk-in closets.  The game room can be used for anything from a pool hall, exercise room, home theater, or its current purpose, a driving range!  There’s even a separate flex area that could be perfect for a craft area, homework station, or video games.

This can fit all your master bedroom furniture comfortably.

For more information or to schedule a showing, email me.


Austin a Top City to Retire

We all know that Austin is the Live Music Capital of the World, attracting thousands of young visitors every year.  It’s also home to one of the largest universities in the country and boasts a very low unemployment rate.  But did you also know it’s a great place to retire?

CNN just put out an article ranking Austin the #5 city to retire due to its low state income tax (0%), amazing outdoor trails and parks, and top tier health care.

Full article here: http://money.cnn.com/gallery/retirement/2012/10/16/best-places-retire.moneymag/5.html

Food Trucks in Round Rock

Watch out, Austin.  Round Rock just approved its very own food trailer park.  12 vendors are all set up for the grand opening this coming weekend, October 6-7.  And since we’re in the small, but rapidly growing city of Round Rock, you know it’s done with careful planning and preparation with families and kids in mind.

Food trucks plus free movies every other Monday! Eat your heart out, Austin.

For the full article, click here.

I-35 Decongestion – Round Rock

Round Rock is a great city located right in between two other great cities – Austin and Georgetown.  That also means lots of commuters.  If you’ve noticed Round Rock traffic getting worse and worse, you’re not the only one.  Fortunately, Round Rock Transportation has plans to make major improvements over the next 18-24 months that will help traffic flow in Round Rock, whether you’re traveling to Austin or Georgetown.

It costs about $1M per ramp removal/addition. I sure hope it works.

Check out the full article here.

Classic Contemporary with Picturesque Setting – 4307 Adagio Place

Located on a quiet cul-de-sac is a home so picturesque inside and out that you’d swear you were at a Pottery Barn photo shoot. 4307 Adagio is a 3-bedroom home with a very nice classic contemporary style ready for move-in. The floor plan maximizes the 2,780 sf to include a private front office, formal dining, and game room or second living. Every room is the right size and big where it counts – master bedroom and bathroom suite, kitchen, living room, and breakfast area are noticeably big and open. High ceilings throughout, built-in bookshelves and niches, limestone fireplace, and elegant stairway banisters complete the look.

With curb appeal like this, you should be jealous of your neighbor's view.

The front porch is framed in wood beams and covered with an environment-friendly metal roof. Consider it your front row seats on a clear, starry night, or during a heavy lightning storm. Vaulted ceilings and ceramic tiles greet you in the foyer and give you a nice tour of the first floor.  The kitchen upgrades are designed to make any owner happy with knotty alder wood cabinets (also found in the bathrooms), granite counters, and top-of-the-line stainless steel appliances.  There is a convenient opening to the formal dining room, and it overlooks the breakfast area and living room so the chef is always part of the conversation.

The alder wood cabinets insist you can be both knotty and nice.

The living room is a natural gathering spot in this house making it perfect for movie nights and other types of get-togethers.  The vaulted ceilings and wide hallways make you feel small, yet the built-in bookshelf and stone fireplace give the living room the coziness of a log cabin.  The beautiful banisters lead your eyes to the second floor where there is a game room, two bedrooms, and a full bathroom.  There are no shared walls between bedrooms and both are big enough to be guest rooms.  One of them even has a nice nook for reading or studying.  The game room can be used ideally as a media room, kids’ play room, or hobby/craft area.

This picture was not stolen from a magazine or website.

The only thing that hasn’t been completed is the back yard.  Big enough for an in-ground heated swimming pool and hot tub, fire pit with stone seats, outdoor kitchen under a gazebo or covered patio, and vegetable and herb garden, this is where you can imagine and implement your dream of a back yard retreat.  The canvas has been left blank for your very own style, placement, colors, and design.

If you’d like to schedule a showing, email me.

 

To see more videos, visit, www.HookedOnTheBrothers.com.

4307 Adagio – Sellers Disclosure
4307 Adagio – Upgrades
4307 Adagio – Survey
4307 Adagio – Inspection Report

Rare Privacy in Newer Subdivision – 4309 Angelico in Sendero Springs

A home with privacy located in a newer subdivision is hard to find. Sure, you can get privacy on bigger lots in older neighborhoods. Sure, you can purchase a newer home in a newer neighborhood with neighbors to your left, right, and rear. Of course you can build a brand new home on a nice private lot, but that will cost you big money. 4309 Angelico has that rare combination of affordable privacy in a highly desirable and newer subdivision, Sendero Springs. In fact it is the only home in Sendero Springs that backs to a forest preserve and has a side yard big enough to feel like no one’s there. 4309 Angelico gives you privacy in a newer subdivision at an affordable price of $275,000.

This home sits on one of the most private lots in Sendero Springs.

With 3,099 sf, this house has plenty of space for 4 bedrooms, a media room, a dedicated office, a formal dining room, and two living rooms.   The media room is isolated on the west wing of the second floor so you can watch movies or play the drums as loud as you want.  It’s also great for a common game room or pool table with two big closets to store all the toys, games, and billiard equipment.  The dedicated office and french doors are perfect for working from home and keeping your work life separate from your home life.  The kitchen has been updated with silestone counters, stainless steel appliances, and wood laminate floors that spread to a breakfast area large enough to seat 6 comfortably.  The kitchen opens up to the living room, guaranteeing that you don’t miss any of the action.  The best feature, however, may be the main living room with vaulted ceilings, 6 large windows that provide natural light and unobstructed views to the greenbelt, and a warm fireplace  to get you through the winter months.  This type of living room with a view like this is normally found in homes priced well over $300,000.

Look straight out those windows and enter into your personal arboretum.

The back patio setting is a great place to star gaze in the cool night or watch the wind blow across the tree tops of the forest preserve.  The huge wood deck expands the width of the home and every seat is front row to the greenbelt.  Full irrigation of the yard and flower beds mean you can spend more time enjoying the view.  The big side yard gives you additional privacy and is easily accessible from the back yard.  It’s a very flexible space that can be used for throwing the football, baseball, or frisbee, playing soccer, hosting Easter egg hunts, a fantastic dog run, growing herbs and vegetables, placing a tool shed, etc.  It’s certainly a nice extra to have in a home where nothing else is needed.

Some things you don't get tired of - like a view full of trees and blue sky.

If you want to see this rare and beautiful home, give me a call or email to set an appointment.

To see more videos, visit our YouTube page: www.HookedOnTheBrothers.com.

4309 Angelico – Upgrades
4309 Angelico Ln – Seller’s Disclosure
4309 Angelico Ln – WDI Report
4309 Angelico Ln – Survey

Looking for information on Round Rock Texas Homes For Sale? Visit my website or call me anytime!! Want the latest updates on Round Rock Texas Real Estate, news and latest developments? Sign up for the blog by clicking the link below:

Sendero Springs 2012 2nd Quarter Newsletter

Sendero Springs in Round Rock, Texas

Sendero Springs seems to be waking from winter hibernation and starting 2012 on the right foot by selling twice as many homes as compared to the fourth quarter of 2011.  Homes also sold faster.  Selling a large number of homes quickly is a great sign of a healthy and desirable neighborhood.

Last 12 Months Homes Sold SqFt List Price $/SF Sold Price Sold $/SF SP/LP Ratio Days on Market
2nd Qtr, ’11 12 3,031 $ 265,842 $ 87.72 $ 258,403 $ 85.27 97.20% 41
3rd Qtr, ’11 10 2,981 $ 265,140 $ 88.93 $ 251,718 $ 84.43 94.94% 75
4th Qtr, ’11 3 3,009 $ 279,966 $ 93.04 $ 272,300 $ 90.50 97.26% 53
1st Qtr, ’12 6 3,236 $ 279,967 $ 86.51 $ 272,432 $ 84.18 97.31% 52

However, the data also suggest Sendero Springs is experiencing a decrease in home value.  This might be the most important trend since it is directly translated to how much money you receive when you sell.  In the chart above you will notice that the average home sold in the 1st quarter of 2012 was bigger than the previous quarter, yet the list price and sold price are practically the same.  Consequently, the average sold $/sf is at its lowest point in the last 4 years at $84.18.


In addition to preparing the house properly, choosing a Realtor that knows how to market your house is the key to attracting a higher offer from buyers. Here are just a few questions you might want to ask your Realtor at your next listing appointment:

How do you market towards the emotional appeal of potential buyers?

What are the top three ways a buyer finds a home and how do you leverage that to find a buyer?

How do you create high differentiation in the perceived and real value of my home and how do you market that?

Will strong negotiation skills help me get more money for my home? If so, what type of formal training in negotiation do you have?

Homes Sold Last 12 Mos 31
Absorption Rate (# sold/mo) 2.58
Current Active Listings 10
Months of Inventory 3.87

Looking for information on Round Rock Texas Homes For Sale? Visit my website or call me anytime!! Want the latest updates on Round Rock Texas Real Estate, news and latest developments? Sign up for the blog by clicking the link below:

Sendero Springs 2012 1st Quarter Newsletter

Sendero Springs in Round Rock, Texas

It’s tax season.  For some of us it means filing tax returns.  For us in Sendero Springs, it means paying our property taxes!

Looking to save money on your property taxes? It’s no secret that homeowners in Sendero Springs pay one of the highest property tax rates in all of Williamson County – close to 3%! Here’s a New Year’s resolution that should be on every homeowner’s list because it’s fast, easy, and pays you back – file for a homestead exemption. Your tax break will depend on your eligibility, but even the most modest exemptions could net you several hundred dollars annually.

You can download the form here: http://www.wcad.org/Appraisal/PublicAccess/Forms/PublicServices/HomesteadExemptionApplication.pdf

And read more about it here: http://www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/proptax/exmptns.html.

Home prices in 2011 were at a 4-year low, but an improving 4th quarter can be an indicator that Sendero Springs prices are on the rise. The average home price increased to $90.50/sf, which is above the 2010 4th quarter price. (Remember, a $5/sf increase can mean $15,000 on a home that is 3,000 sf.) Despite the small sample size (only three homes sold from October to December), we are headed in the right direction (up!) for 2012.

Homes Sold Last 12 Mos 38
Absorption Rate (# sold/mo) 3.17
Current Active Listings 9
Months of Inventory 2.84

The absorption rate has not changed significantly. There are more homes for sale than before, which means an increase in inventory. (Absorption rate is the number of homes sold per month in the past 12 months.) Our previous inventory was two months and currently it is approaching three. Anything under 6 months is considered a seller’s market!

Last 12 Months Homes Sold Sq Ft List Price List $/SF Sold Price Sold $/SF SP/LP Ratio Days on Market
1st Qtr, ’11 13 2,966 $ 266,362 $ 89.81 $ 253,498 $ 85.47 95.17% 110
2nd Qtr, ’11 12 3,031 $ 265,842 $ 87.72 $ 258,403 $ 85.27 97.20% 41
3rd Qtr, ’11 10 2,981 $ 265,140 $ 88.93 $ 251,718 $ 84.43 94.94% 75
4th Qtr, ’11 3 3,009 $ 279,966 $ 93.04 $ 272,300 $ 90.50 97.26% 53

Looking for information on Round Rock Texas Homes For Sale? Visit my website or call me anytime!! Want the latest updates on Round Rock Texas Real Estate, news and latest developments? Sign up for the blog by clicking the link below:

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