In a recent report from the American Growth Project, Austin ranked the No. 2 fastest-growing city in 2022, and for good reason. Austin, Texas is a true melting pot of ideas, cultures, and people. What used to be a sleepy college town in the not-so-distant past has transformed into a thriving city that is economically vibrant and rich in opportunity. A strong local culture, well-developed urban amenities, great climate conditions, and increasing venture capital investments make Austin, TX one of the most appealing places to live in the US.
If you are thinking of moving to Austin or making a long-term real estate investment, there are some fantastic luxury properties in this rapidly developing city.
Below are a few tips to help you get started.
Know what to expect in the market
Luxury real estate in Texas has been booming in the last few years. In 2021, there were 11,890 homes sold for $1 million or higher, according to the Texas Luxury Home Sales Report by Texas REALTORS®. That figure is an 89.6% increase compared to the previous reporting year. Austin comprised 25.9% of total luxury sales in Texas, which was the third highest among the four largest metro areas in the state. Specifically, the city accounted for 3,103 luxury homes sold, representing a $5.2 billion in total sales dollar volume in 2021.
Taking a closer look at the local real estate market in Austin, luxury properties range anywhere between $1.5 million (for a luxury condo in the heart of the downtown area) to $35 million (for a 21-acre waterfront estate).
Austin’s architecture is defined by the following common styles:
- French Renaissance
- Mid-century Modern
Luxury home features and amenities common at this price point include:
- Gated and landscaped grounds
- Moroccan-style cabana
- Oversized swimming pool
- Swim-up bar
- Grill and outdoor kitchen
- Private marina
- Wrap-around terrace
- Expansive patios
- Venetian-plaster walls
- Hand-painted Italian tiles
- Private game room
- Custom stone and plaster staircase
- Sunken living and family room
- Wine cellar
- Guest bedroom suites
A shortlist of the most exclusive neighborhoods
West Lake Hills
One of the most desirable neighborhoods in West Lake Hills, an area Darin Walker has called home all his life, and a neighborhood where he has closed $224M of real estate transactions since 2018.
This sought-after suburb is known for its abundant green spaces, well-kept homes, tree-lined streets, and scenic hillside views. Proximity to several primary and elementary schools (part of the highly rated Eanes Independent School District) also makes this community a top choice among family-oriented buyers. It takes just a few minutes to reach downtown Austin via Bee Caves Road, the main thoroughfare along West Lake Hill’s southern section.
While it has long been considered a suburb of Austin, West Lake Hills is technically a separate town. This is a big reason why there is a strong sense of community in the area. Overall, this neighborhood offers the right mix of accessibility to urban amenities and proximity to natural surroundings.
Just across West Lake Hills is affluent Tarrytown, one of the most expensive neighborhoods to live in the city. The community is prominent for its oak trees, inspiring early residents to come up with a slogan: “Where oak trees charm the eye.” In terms of real estate, there are stately mansions and exceptionally large lots throughout Tarrytown.
The top attractions in this neighborhood include Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve (21 acres encompassing walking trails and wildlife habitat) and the historic Lions Municipal Golf Course (18 holes, driving range, putting greens). Tarrytown’s southern portion, along Lake Austin Boulevard, is one of the more vibrant areas in the neighborhood — filled with cafés, restaurants, and an array of local shops and boutiques.
Another sought-after neighborhood that is also a full-fledged municipality is Rollingwood. With plenty of recreational facilities and easy access to the downtown area, Rollingwood is a small community of fewer than 2,000 residents. It is ideal for buyers looking for a tranquil neighborhood that is not far from nearby parks, retail shops, groceries, and other urban essentials.
Convenient access to Eanes Independent School District makes Rollingwood a solid option for families with school-age children. In addition, proximity to Austin Nature and Science Center and Zilker Metropolitan Park and Botanical Garden gives families more options on where to take the kids out on a weekend.
One of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, Barton Creek is surrounded by beautiful natural landscape. To its west lies the 4,000-acre Barton Creek Habitat Preserve, a haven for avid backcountry explorers and casual outdoor enthusiasts. To the east is the Barton Creek Greenbelt, where you can explore a a plethora of outdoor activities, including rock climbing, trekking, swimming, and camping.
A sizable portion of the housing stock is comprised of spacious luxury homes. Residents enjoy quick access to nearby amenities and urban essentials via the main thoroughfares of Southwest Parkway and Bee Caves Road. The nearest shopping complex is Barton Creek Square, which has about 170 retail stores and a 16-screen movie theater.
Homes along Lake Austin
Lake Austin winds for 22 miles along the west of downtown Austin, and here you will find some of the finest waterfront homes in the area. Taking full advantage of the location, these properties provide immediate and private access to the water with many having their own docks. Being close to the Austin’s downtown area means that residents also have easy access to all Austin’s amenities, as well as the option to enroll in their children in highly rated school districts.
Waterfront homes along Lake Austin are not only extremely luxurious, they provide homeowners the best of all worlds.
Find a trusted, experienced, and knowledgeable local real estate expert
Darin Walker can open the doors to the most extravagant luxury homes in the area.
If your objective is to see all inventory that is available, especially the most luxurious of properties, you will need access to private listings. This is due to the fact that at the highest end of the luxury market, properties are often not listed on online sites such as Zillow and other real estate aggregators. While this may seem counter to the interests of both sellers and buyers, there are significant reasons why private selling benefit both.
Some sellers wish to retain a certain level of anonymity when it comes to their real estate transactions, and rely on trusted real estate experts to facilitate the sale of their properties. Buyers are able to realize lower assessed valuations and lower property taxes after they purchase their home by not publicly disclosing the selling price.
Darin specializes in this end of the market and around half of his sales in the area which total $250M have come from private sales. His standing within the community and the relationships he has built perfectly positions Darin to provide his clients with an edge when it comes to access to some of the finest non-listed properties available on the luxury market.
Other considerations when buying a luxury home
Homes that are located nearer or have quicker access to downtown will sell for higher prices and they will also have higher appreciation rates over time. If the uppermost consideration is appreciation over time and the necessity to be able to get downtown quickly on a regular basis, these homes will likely be at the front of your options.
If schooling quality is the most important consideration, note that Eanes ISD in West Austin is rated one of the top in the country and is regarded more highly than the Austin ISD school district. Note also that there are a number of highly rated private schools in and around Austin and if you are looking to go private, ease of commute and distance will be a factor in the neighborhood you choose.
The nightlife provided by Austin is second to none and if this is the main reason to move into the area, then a neighborhood close to downtown would be ideal. That being said, a lakefront home along Lake Austin or Lake Travis can also provide easy access to the downtown area as well as all the benefits and activities of waterfront living.
Be prepared to move quickly
The finest luxury homes, those which are remodeled, are new constructions, and those in the most sought after neighborhoods can sell quickly. If you are closing the deal with cash, the sale can be closed as quickly as 2 weeks, for financed sales, the time period is closer to 45 days.
Having Darin in your corner means you can have complete confidence that in this time when stakes are high and there’s a flurry of activity, your interests are being rigorously pursued. Not only that, but Darin will be there to shield you from the stress and strain of the purchasing process.
Obtain the appropriate insurance
A home with significantly higher value than average should be covered by the appropriate insurance policy. Some of the typical features of a high-value home insurance include the following:
- Broader coverage and higher limits – You can insure your home and personal property at their replacement cost value on an open perils basis. This usually protects you against loss from all causes except for situations that are specifically excluded.
- Special coverage – It is standard for luxury home insurance to give you coverage for landscaping, water damage (sewer, septic tank, and drain backups), and identity theft. Speak with an insurance provider to find out more about additional coverage options.
- Dedicated customer service – It can be quite stressful to go through all the paperwork yourself while you are dealing with theft in the home or significant property damage. High-value home insurance usually gives you access to concierge services that will help you schedule appraisals, hire contractors, and file claims on your behalf.
- Other policy perks – You will also get additional benefits depending on your policy provider. In some instances, you can receive a cash settlement option in the event of total property loss, deductible waivers for specific types of losses, and extended rebuild coverage which can cover reconstruction costs above the policy limit.
Utilize tax benefits in Austin, Texas
Luxury real estate comes at a premium price tag, and that is not yet taking into account the property tax you are paying every year. Fortunately, there are a handful of ways to reduce your annual property tax bill if you can fulfill certain requirements.
A basic homestead exemption allows you to lessen the tax on your primary residence. Under Texas law,school districts can offer a $40,000 exemption. Ranch and farm properties can qualify for agricultural land appraisal, which is lower than the prevailing market value.
Senior citizens (65 years and older) and disabled people may also file for an additional exemption of up to $10,000 in school taxes.
A disabled veteran exemption can grant you up to $12,000 in tax relief. The actual amount will depend on your disability rating and age. Additionally, there is also a veteran’s surviving spouse exemption, which grants the same exemptions that the veteran enjoyed at the time of death. This only applies to a surviving spouse who has not remarried.
A solar and wind-powered energy device exemption may be possible if your home is powered by renewable energy. Panels and other pertinent devices must be installed in the property. For example, if you have spent $20,000 to attach a solar panel on your roof, the exemption will allow you to subtract that cost from your assessed home value.
Visit the Texas Comptroller’s website for more information on requirements and property tax forms you need to submit.
Consider future development and how it may affect your property value
People buy luxury property for a variety of reasons. Whatever your motivations and plans are, future developments around the community can positively or negatively affect how you make use of your newly purchased property.
One such development that potential buyers in Austin should know of is a plan to assign special tax status to approximately 118 acres of waterfront real estate in Central Austin. If approved, a portion of property taxes will be used to fund an extensive project which involves the construction of six-high rise developments.
The resulting special infrastructure fund which will be used to develop the entire area — effectively paying for a new street grid, waste water system, and a slew of amenities (public plaza, parkland, space for public displays of art).
Get in touch with seasoned luxury Realtor, Darin Walker
If you’re thinking about investing in luxury real estate in Austin, you will want to work with the best Realtor you can. As a lifelong Austinite residing in West Lake Hills, a member of the West Lake City Council and member of Elite 25 Austin, and with vast experience in investment banking, Darin Walker has the expertise, inside knowledge, and connections to provide you with highest chance of success in your buying venture.
As one of the top luxury Realtors in Austin, Darin Walker has developed a reputation for five-star client service and impeccable attention to detail. Working with Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty, Darin has access to a vast network of professionals and experts that can help make your dream luxury home a reality.