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Here’s why everyone is moving to the Texas Hill Country: a story of Califorians, avocado toast, the Dixie Chicks, and chickens

Has it felt like everyone is moving to Texas? Have you ever met someone living in Austin who is actually from Austin? Texans may not love that their state is getting overrun, but can we blame people for wanting to move to the greatest state?

Anyone who’s visited Texas has come across our deeply rooted state pride. Whether you’ve spent a couple days or decades here, I’m sure you can see why. We have Tex-Mex, beautiful sunsets, BBQ that melts in your mouth and rich culture. And I don’t know about you, but if you’ve ever had a tortilla north of Texas, you’ve probably rushed back south. It’s no wonder that Texas has seen high migration patterns from other states over the past two decades.

The Perks

No income tax and low tax burdens

As the saying goes, two things are inevitable: death and taxes. State income tax, however, can be avoided depending on where you call home. Across the 50 states, additional state income tax varies from 0% to well over 10%. Median states such as Kentucky have a 5% tax rate with California, New York, New Jersey, and Hawaii taxing over the 10% mark (source). For Texans, state income tax is nonexistent. As more workplaces go remote, more employees are eyeing states like Texas to keep an extra 5-10% of their income. According to the Tax Foundation, Texas is ranked 46th out of all 50 states from highest to lowest tax burden overall with local and state taxes 15% lower than national averages.

Affordable Housing

Texas is ranked 17th in on the list of most affordable places to live, with housing prices below the national average. This means that your housing budget can go further here than 33 other states in the US (source). Even more so when you start to look outside of major city hubs and build homes in the Hill Country outside of the Austin and San Antonio city limits.

Larger Lots Sizes

It’s not just Californians craving a little more breathing room. After suffering through lockdowns and two years of hybrid work environments, home owners are craving the wide open spaces and bigger lots the hill country can offer *queue dixie chicks*. Once you leave the city limits, it becomes significantly easier to find larger lots, especially lots with mature trees. But even within the cities themselves, you can find bigger lots than most major cities in the rest of the country. Austin ranks 3rd for largest lot sizes in the US and San Antonio ranks 7th (source).

Natural Beauty

While some people’s imaginations of Texas conjure images of arid land and rolling tumbleweeds, the geography varies across the massive state. The Hill Country in particular is a hidden gem and arguably the best place to move within the state. The scenic Hill Country is filled with rivers, lakes, natural springs, climbing spots, hilltop sunsets, a rugged beauty and even underground caverns. Top spots include Barton Springs, Zilker park, the Comal River, and Natural Bridge Caverns. The heart of Texas rivals any state, boasting a variety of natural attractions to visit.

Urban Attractions

For the city folk, the Hill Country offers shopping and live music in Austin and the riverwalk and Mexican cuisine just south in San Antonio. San Antonio’s city attractions vary from modern attractions such as interactive children’s museums to Spanish missions that have stood for generations. In the middle of downtown San Antonio you can find street tacos across from the Alamo, mariachi bands playing in bars and a plethora of historical museums. Follow the river walk a little more, and you can find The Pearl. Standing since 1883, the Pearl began as a brewery. After 118 years of brewing, it was purchased in 2001 with the goal to create a cultural hub filled with unique cuisine, eclectic shopping and a high end boutique hotel. The Pearl now boasts a lively community, weekend markets, and serves as a destination for San Antonioans and travelers alike (source).

Just north up I-35 you can find live music across every genre in the Texas capitol. Austin possesses a vibrant food and bar scene. Many businesses refurbish former homes into retail and restaurant spaces, filling the city with both modern and historic design. Austin is certainly a place for foodies, with food truck parks scattering the city offering every cuisine imaginable. With upscale shopping options at The Domain and music on every corner of 6th street, the city is full of urban entertainment options.

The appeal of Austin

Have you ever sat in Dallas traffic? If so, Austin commutes may feel like a breeze and an easy sacrifice for the vibrant local culture. According to the US News and World Report, Austin has been ranked first on the list of best places to live in the US for several years. Visitors and residents may have seen Austin as a top spot for young professionals, but US news ranked Austin 11th in the US for retirees citing weather and culture as reasons for the high rank.

Less Limiting HOAs

And speaking of chickens, remember in 2020 when no one could find eggs? Backyard chicken coops sprung up but many homeowners have since found their HOA’s trying to evict their feathery neighbors. Some people go the route of trying to get their chickens certified as emotional support animals. Hey, a good omelet is good for anyone’s mental health. Finding communities without HOA restrictions is another option. Independent Texans head to the Hill Country where people are moving to enjoy less restrictive policies on everything from hens to backyard brush fires.

Getting away from the city lights

As home and rent prices rise in the major cities of Austin and San Antonio, many people are seeking land to build in between these two bustling cities. Just off the highway between these two cities are towns with tons of character, history, and vibrant communities selling large lots to build on. A lot in New Braunfels near Texas’s oldest bakery and the clear Comal River offers countryside charm within 45 minutes from the Alamo and surrounding high rises. San Marcus is home to Texas State University and just a short drive from Gruene Hall. This dancehall is the oldest in Texas and has been graced by Texas Country royalty.

Living near the office kept many Texans from enjoying these historic towns and stuck in the city. But the boom of remote work has allowed many Texans to build their dream home in the country while working their dream job from a home office. And not a moment too soon with gas prices making me regret purchasing a diesel vehicle.

We have wine

You don’t have to go all the way to California to tour a winery, the Texas Hill Country has its own wine growing region. The tiny town of Fredericksburg offers local charm and is one of the few cities where it is legal to sip a pinot noir or local pint of beer as you stroll down the charming streets to shop at local boutiques or savor authentic German food. The Hill Country wine region is actually the third largest in the US and the largest in Texas, making it the perfect spot for a weekend getaway without having to buy a plane ticket.

Other Factors

Tech Jobs (here comes California)

While Texas has been known for oil (and NASA), Austin is a burgeoning tech hub with major companies announcing plans to move their headquarters to the capital. As high paying tech jobs increase, so does the number of Califorinans migrating to Texas. Like many others, The Golden State has gone remote and its workforce is realizing that everything is bigger in Texas, especially the amount of home they can get with tech salaries.

Challenges buying a first home

Certain corners of the internet claim that millennials couldn’t afford to buy homes because of how much avocado toast they purchase at brunch. While this has been formally debunked by economists as a cheapshot millennial joke, early shutdowns in the pandemic did prevent people from their usual spending habits. Combined with an influx of pandemic related aid and historically low mortgage rates, many people found their bank accounts flush with extra cash. With leftover brunch money, the masses took to zillow. Summer of 2019 in particular marked the beginning of  a coming of age moment for many young millennials purchasing their first homes between 2019 and 2020.

Unfortunately, this resulted in record housing shortages and houses selling significantly above asking prices. This pushed many people to skip the process of trying to outbid 20+ offers in favor of building their own piece of paradise. As interest rates were favorable and people found themselves able to afford down payments, first time homeowners started buying in the Texas Hill Country wherever they found available lots and lumber.

While no list can be fully comprehensive and cover all the reasons people are moving to the Hill Country, this is an excellent start to many of the reasons we love building homes here.

Use our contact page if you’d like to hear more about building your dream home in the Texas Hill Country.

What you need to know about San Antonio home building in 2022

A lot has changed over the past two years, but some things haven’t. One thing that has remained the same: people still need homes. In fact, people are spending even more time at home as working remotely has remained widespread. Thus the importance of one’s house as a safe space has only grown, leading more and more people to build.

What does this mean for building demand? 

Pardon our pun, but we’d say custom home demand has been building… A lot of potential new homeowners spent last year waiting for things to “slow down” before breaking ground on their dream home. This has created pent up demand in a market that still hasn’t seen demand fall. In fact, around 4 out of 5 builders expect to build more homes in 2022 than in 2021. Already, 2021 was a booming year for the industry and builder’s optimism leads us to believe 2022 will be another full year. Since housing is a constant need we don’t recommend waiting for a “dry spell” to start building. Instead we recommend starting early to get a better spot in a builder’s queue of people waiting to build their dream home.

I want a custom home, but I can’t find a place to put it

Clear lots in major cities, such as San Antonio, can be hard to come by. Lot supply can vary significantly depending on location with a general rule that the closer you are to the heart of a city, the harder it will be to find land. While many people may think that you have to have a lot before you find your builder, a custom home builder could be the perfect solution to finding the right lot. One benefit of a local builder is local expertise in the real estate market. More than anyone else, they know where the best places to build are. Take our staff at Stone Creek Custom Homes. Our team has a lifetime of experience building in the San Antonio area. One member even got their start from selling lots locally and has witnessed trends first hand.

Utilizing a local builder’s expertise in the San Antonio real estate market can streamline your home building process by helping you know where to look for lots. An added bonus is that a builder can help you evaluate how easy it will be to put your dream home on a given piece of land. There’s nothing worse than saving a couple thousand on a lot that was a “steal” only to find out it isn’t as buildable as you were led to believe. Home builders can help you avoid this pitfall and even help evaluate simple things such as where the water drains to make sure you aren’t building in a spot that could flood your first floor.

Over the past few years, we’ve been building more and more homes in the surrounding San Antonio area. People are moving further out for larger lots and better access to the Hill Country. Now that remote work is reducing people’s commutes, we expect this trend to accelerate as more home building customers purchase lots in Bulverde, Boerne, New Braunfels and other surrounding areas. If you are willing to be further from San Antonio, the area is filled with many rich communities filled with amazing designs and new builds.

Personally, I think any lot within 20 minutes of an HEB is prime real estate, but the rolling Hill Country with its quaint small towns and endless trees is pretty appealing. Add in access to HEB’s house made tortilla’s and you have the perfect recipe for a dream home.

Will there be delays?

Unfortunately, global supply chains are still practically the wild west, with standoffs between product shortages and surcharges in shipping costs. While it can be challenging to predict what will be short next, home builders have navigated these challenges for well over a year now. Experienced builders with a deep knowledge of building timelines will be able to navigate these delays by pre-ordering pieces with expected delays. Even better, builders who have been around for a while should have strong ties with local contractors and skilled laborers needed to complete a build. This too can help you mitigate delays born of labor shortages.

To evaluate whether a builder is experienced, find out how many years they have been in the business and how many houses they’ve built. You can also ask potential builders what their timelines are currently looking like. Here we recommend listening for honesty, not the shortest timeline. While it can be tempting to go with the builder who promises a quick 6 months. With these market conditions, they may be exaggerating or frequently cut corners in the name of speed. Regardless, there is a high chance they will be unable to deliver a truly custom experience. Or even better, find out first hand from a brand’s customers. A client who has dealt with many delays and project mismanagement is likely to share this information via reviews on the company’s social pages to warn other potential buyers.

Construction costs are expected to come down

On a positive note, we are expecting to see a drop in the costs of many inputs for custom home building. This is a win for everyone, allowing home builders to deliver more value for a client’s budget and for a client to have more of a chance to customize before making cuts. The ambiguity of the many costs of home building can be intimidating for someone building a home for the first time. That’s why we at Stone Creek pursue radical transparency with the budgeting, to allow the home owners to have confidence and more control over costs. We recommend finding a building company that is willing to give it to you straight and have candid conversations about costs while also offering their expertise on how much each category should average. This will allow you to be in the driver’s seat, but with the added benefit of a map to tell you how to get there and how much it’s gonna cost.

Building a home can be one heck of a ride, but we assure you, the view at the end is worth it.

5 Tips to Design the Perfect Custom Home

Building a Texas Hill Country custom home can be an exciting adventure to embark on. When building a new home or even improving an old one, there are so many things to consider. Homebuilders will need to consider where to build their house, how much money they want to spend, and what the design of your home will look like. While all of these aspects throughout the home building process are important and need to be addressed, one of the most integral and potentially difficult parts of building a custom home can be navigating the design process. Here are 5 tips to help you design the perfect custom home.

Get serious about your budget

A line-item master budget can be an extraordinarily helpful tool when designing your perfect Texas hill country home. The list of amenities and features you may want to incorporate will be far more financially feasible if you plan on how to pay for them from the start. Come up with a master budget (that has space for wiggle room) that details what you’re willing to spend when designing your custom home. Your budget is a great place to include specifics like custom cabinetry, granite countertops, or 18-foot ceilings that you may want in your home. After your budget has been created, you can sit down with your custom home builders before creating blueprints to discuss the intricacies and costs of the design you want to incorporate. It’s also smart to budget when you’re designing your home because small building incidentals can unintentionally add up quickly. If you build an emergency fund into your budget, there will already be funds set aside to cover small issues when they arise, like if you decide to change your design plan, or add in another custom feature down the road. Doing some financial planning on the front end of designing your home will save you time, energy, and money in the long run. It will also often help your money to stretch further during the building process, moving you one step closer to living in your perfect custom home.

Find the best location

When it comes time to design your luxurious new home, choosing a location is a key step. If you already live in the Texas hill country, you may just be moving down the street. However, if you’re from a different part of Texas, another state, or even another country, moving to the greater San Antonio area may be quite a change. Stone Creek Custom Home prides itself in building on your lot. This means that as a company we are ready and willing to build on the lot you’ve chosen or help you find one. We build in many neighborhoods across the Texas Hill Country, a few of which are  Vintage Oaks, Timberwood Park, and Bell Oaks. However, those are only three of the multitudes of locations and neighborhoods that Stone Creek Custom Home can build your perfect custom home in. If you already have a location in mind, Stone Creek is excited to build with you. If you’re still in the decision-making process, it’s smart to consider the future and style of your new home. This may make it easier to choose a location or neighborhood. Many new home builders also enjoy seeing neighborhoods in person and speaking to new potential neighbors to get a feel for the area. These steps are helpful in determining if you’d feel comfortable moving in. Doing some research and visiting potential locations is a great way to make sure that you end up in the neighborhood of your dreams.

Get Involved in the blueprint process

The right team of home builders can make the blueprint process a breeze, however, it’s smart to be involved. Being involved in this important step of the building process can help you not only achieve your desired floor plan but also add in space for the specific design details you’d like included early on. Your builder will also be helpful with providing insight and advice for the layout of your home, the space you have, and how the design will play out in real life. Building a home is a unique opportunity to create the perfect, custom home of your dreams. Therefore, involving yourself in the planning process is important so that your home is everything you’d like it to be. As your builders develop floor plans, implement design and ask for your input, make sure to stay involved in each step. You should also feel comfortable voicing your opinion.

Don’t over customize

A common mistake that custom home buyers make is going overboard on customizing their new build. This can often look like an owner choosing customizations that are beyond unique and uncommon. While no builder wants to keep their client from achieving their perfect custom home, there are some design decisions that can produce a negative impact in the long run. For example, some customizations may be a poor use of the space in your home, and may even be a poor use of your budget. Building a custom home is an excellent idea and ultimately, what you choose as the client, is what will be built. However, many owners will over-customize a home that will make it difficult to eventually sell. When it comes to customization you should build out the plans for your home as you see fit and make decisions that will make you happy and comfortable. It’s also wise to consider the future and try to balance customization with what will contribute to the home’s resale value.

Choose Stone Creek Custom Homes

Stone Creek Custom Homes understands that designing and building your dream home can be one of life’s most exciting adventures, but it can also be overwhelming. At Stone Creek, our builders are completely committed to providing you with outstanding customer service throughout the entire building and design process. Our business has a consistent track record of the not only meeting, but exceeding our customer’s expectations when it comes to client communication, building times, and elements of design. We build the kind of homes that we would want to live in. There are no cut corners, only surpassed expectations.  Are you interested in learning more about your perfect custom home? Click here to learn more about the services we provide.

Written by Caroline Kidd of KC Creative

Why Building a Home in San Antonio Can Be Cheaper Than Buying One

It’s not a secret to anyone living in the greater surrounding San Antonio area that the city is quickly growing. More and more people are moving to San Antonio because of the rich culture, the excellent job market, and the beautiful scenery. This means that homes are more in demand than they ever have been.

In fact, The San Antonio Board of Realtors reports that the average cost of a home has increased 19% within one calendar year, which interestingly, it’s greater than the rise in home costs from June 2019 to June 2020  (source). As locals welcome the influx of new faces flooding the San Antonio area, they also usher in a rise in the cost of living, which has directly affected the cost of owning a home in the Alamo city. This leaves many people confused about whether buying or building is a better idea. If you’re deciding between building a home or buying one, here are three reasons why building a home may be more financially advantageous than buying one in San Antonio right now.

Your custom built home will be new

San Antonio offers a lot of history as a city. Whether it’s historic battlefields like the Alamo, hotels that have stood for hundreds of years, or even the River Walk, which was added in 1941, the city shines with all the things people have constructed. While the history of the city is a jewel in San Antonio’s crown, it also means that there are many outdated homes across the city. This fact coupled with the real estate market boom means many people are selling their homes. Furthermore, a lot of the inventory people are listing is outdated and the cost can easily be inflated. Instead of buying an older home, you can build a custom home that will cost less in the long run. Maintenance upkeep is typically far less for newer homes. Eventually things will need to be replaced, but that could be ten to twenty years in the future, instead of within the first year of buying an older home. Beyond that, new builds typically have more competitive utility rates. Custom built homes have a track record of being more energy efficient and therefore less expensive than older homes with higher bills. Oftentimes, newer homes can be more cost efficient for these reasons.

The freedom to design

One of the wonderful things about choosing to build a custom home is the freedom to design. When you decide that building your own home is what you want to do, a whole new world of possibilities opens up for what the inside of your home could hold. Whether it’s modern or traditional, your custom builder should be able to help you decide on which direction to move forward. While this may seem like a more costly decision, it can actually save you money in the long run. When you are buying a house, unless you have time and funds budgeted for a major home renovation, you are more or less settling for the architecture and layout that is already in place. With a custom built home, you pay for exactly what you want. If you build strategically, this can be more price competitive than buying an existing home. Some existing homes will contain unwanted expensive features that have been chosen by the previous owners. People who build custom homes have a blank canvas on which to paint their dream house and the option not to have to pay for the upkeep of expensive features that they may not be interested in.

Skip the competition

 

As more and more people move to San Antonio, real estate competition and home prices will continue to rise. Even real estate experts are not sure when the San Antonio market will begin to cool down. With this unexpected economic climate comes the virtual certainty that house hunting will not be easy. When buying a home, it’s smart to analyze financial costs, but it’s also wise to consider your time. Instead of months of searching for a home that fulfills all your needs and also exists within your price range, you may consider looking into custom building. If you decide to build a custom home, you rid yourself of the potential of competing offers, which can quickly and drastically raise the price of buying the home. Instead, building a custom home can provide price security as you have greater control over expenses. Instead of navigating a competitive market and potentially overpaying, there is the option to build a home that is more reasonably priced and stable.

 

We know that deciding between building or buying can feel like a stressful process. However, the team at Stone Creek Custom Homes has decades of experience in hearing people’s dreams and turning them into reality.

 

If you’re interested in booking a free consultation with one of our experts, click here.

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Can building a home provide you with instant equity?

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How building a custom home can provide you with instant equity

After months of pouring over every decision, you open the door to your dream home on move in day. Imagine exhaling with contentment, knowing you already have equity in your new home. Sound too good to be true? It doesn’t have to be.

Equity is the difference in what a home is worth versus what you owe on it. Generally, the market determines what a house is worth, “a home’s value at any given time is what a willing and qualified buyer is willing and able to pay for at that time” (source).

There are two traditional ways to gain equity, paying what you owe on the house or waiting for the value of home to increase over time. People who purchase an already built home are generally paying the full market price (or more in the current competitive market). They are the people who end up paying for the additional equity thoughtfully built in.

Thus on move in day, if someone has equity in a home it’s usually from their own deposit, not representing any true gain. This is where building a home can present an economic opportunity. For someone to have instant equity in a new build, the cost to build must remain under the appraised market value for the finished home.

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However, many people build a home without gaining extra equity or even spending more than it would be appraised for. This can happen simply because the average client may not understand what truly adds value to a new home. As you can imagine, it is much easier to add cost than value.

Generally, it is the ‘luxuries’ that add up in your budget without really contributing to home equity. When you build, it’s possible to consider these factors along the way. This could leave you with instant equity on closing day, meaning you could turn around and instantly sell your new home for more money than you spent to build it.

Instant equity can be created by considering the overall values of the market in addition to your family’s wishlist. Value comes from smart, lasting decisions that will remain over time. Examples include, adding an extra room, garage, or a home office. While spending extra on your favorite light fixture may feel valuable, it will eventually be outdated and does not represent as much value to the home buyer market.

To gain equity by building, you must balance your wishlist with market must haves. This goal often requires making many decisions based on logical market factors instead of only relying on personal must haves.

With the many decisions required in building a house, it’s important to find an experienced builder to help you maximize equity and avoid spending pitfalls. Their expertise can help you navigate budgeting and keep you from spending more than your future home’s market value.

If you are interested in learning more, schedule a free consultation today with one of our experienced staff members to discuss your goals and how you can build your dream home with instant equity.

For more information on budgeting, read out Decisive Guide to Staying on Budget when Building a Custom Home

-The Team at Stone Creek Custom Homes, proudly building the finest custom homes in the San Antonio Hill Country

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