What’s Next for Austin, Texas

by Heather Tankersley
What's Next for Austin

Good afternoon…

I normally send out an email with some information, news, market updates, etc. on Fridays, but given the past 11 days here in Austin, Texas, I wanted to follow up on some questions that have been coming in over the weekend and today because of what’s being reported in the media (and on social media).

NOTE:  Austin, Texas is not built for 7 days of snow and ice and there was never going to be a perfect outcome here. PERIOD

First off, there are a lot of questions about the cost of power. There are people that are way more versed in the intricacies of how the power grid in Texas worked and what the failures were, so I won’t even try to explain that. But the one thing that I’ve had AT LEAST a dozen people reach out to me on is the cost of energy as a result.

While there are ways that the power company can add surcharges and other “fees,” the reports of $17,000 electric bills and the likes should not be a factor in our area (Austin/Hill Country).

“Customers who are seeing their electric bills spike likely have rates controlled by variable bill pricing, where rates are based on the market. You can save money when prices fall, but you are also vulnerable to surging prices when the energy market swings the other way.

PEC and Austin Energy, on the other hand, use fixed rates, where prices are more rigid. Any changes to Austin Energy’s prices must be authorized by Austin City Council after a thorough rate review process, according to Austin Energy.”

Here’s the link to the full article from KVUE.

Either way, there will be a LOT of finger-pointing and blame to go around in the coming weeks and months…

The other issue that residents have been facing is related to water. This is getting much less coverage but it likely to be the issue that residents deal with the longest.

Many people across Central Texas have been without water for the better part of a week. Many of our friends lost water on Wednesday and only got it back a few hours ago. Much of the area is also still on a boil water notice while things get repaired (again, I’m not an expert on the water infrastructure).

Water treatment Austin,TexasMy understanding is that the storm affected water treatment plants, which were forced to shut down. I think it’s a little hard to understand what’s going on with the water situation since there are so many different facilities. For example, even within our water company, there were some areas that had no water, some areas that had water, but not drinkable. And then there was our community, which was the ONLY one that had full water with no boil notice (for our water district). We were all on restrictions and they asked that we don’t run the dishwasher or washing machine (it was kind of a mandated break from housework 😉

At any rate, this water situation will likely be here for a minute and something you’ll want to be aware of when you purchase.

Real estate tipsHere are a few tips:

1. If you’re buying a home with a pool, I would advise that you budget for a full pool inspection including leak detection as a precaution.
2. If you have specific questions about plumbing or storm-related damage, be sure to ask explicitly. The seller’s disclosure is limited in what the seller has to disclose about repairs.
3. If you are looking for specific inspections by licensed plumbers, for example, then we’ll need to consider how this impacts our option period (the time during which most people have inspections done).
4. If you are SELLING your home in Austin, Texas, it might be worth paying for a pre-listing inspection so that you can address any issues before putting your home on the market.

The one thing I DO want to leave you with is that while it was a pretty miserable week for everyone, some more so than others, Texans come together in amazing ways.

If anyone needed anything, all they had to do was a post on Facebook or Nextdoor, and people were lining up with trucks and 4WD vehicles. People were opening their homes to friends and total strangers for warmth, hot meals, and warm showers. One of our neighbors literally rescued a family from an icy hill to get the kids to a warm home for the night.

People were offering up their AirB&Bs up for free for people without power.

And everyone was constantly reaching out and checking on friends and relatives, not only in Austin but across the state.

The spirit of Texans, both new and native, is incredible and I’m proud to call Texas my home…

Until next time… keep smiling… be kind… and stay safe out there 🙂

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