Austin, Texas, may be expanding in every direction possible, but some neighborhoods are continually popular year after year, making them some of the best areas for a stable home investment. Their constant high demand and low supply mean you'll likely see a return when you decide to sell or rent.
"Austin's most popular neighborhoods come with popular pricing," says Anthony Gibson, owner and senior buyer specialist at Austin Properties Group/Keller Williams Realty. "Having that name means that you're going to be paying a premium because it's an area that's been protected in value and keeps increasing. When the market shifts, these areas will be less affected because they're established due to their great schools or proximity to downtown."
U.S. News spoke with a few of Austin's top real estate agents, according to real estate technology company Agent Explore (a U.S. News partner), about which neighborhoods are best when it comes to investing in a home in Austin.
"Westlake is within 15 minutes of downtown, and the demand is extremely high because of the schools," says Eric Bramlett, owner/broker of Bramlett Residential.
Encompassing the 78746 and 78733 ZIP codes, Westlake has a high price point for single-family homes, starting at $650,000 and reaching into the low millions. However, the award-winning school district and quick drive to downtown have many Austinites constantly vying for a spot here.
[Read: A First-Time Buyer's Guide to Austin.]
Westlake is close to Barton Springs Pool, Hill Country Galleria, entertainment, restaurants and bars, in addition to employers based in Central Austin. Its established, upscale neighborhoods make it one of the most sought-after areas, with homes that continue to appreciate in value.
"There are many young people who moved to Austin years ago who are now married and starting families, and they're a force in the Austin market," says Carl Shurr, Realtor at Seed Property Group. "They're looking for good neighborhoods with good schools that are close to Central Austin, like Barton Hills."
Barton Hills is close to entertainment, restaurants, Barton Creek, Barton Springs Pool and Zilker Metropolitan Park. Nestled in the 78704 ZIP code, this area has single-family homes starting at $500,000 and heading upward of a few million. Barton Hills Elementary is one of the best and also drives the demand in this area. You'll need to learn this market, but don't hesitate to jump when a home goes up for sale. Many times, homes hit the market on Friday and are under contract by Monday.
"The best investments are areas where you have a limited commodity," Shurr says. "When you have an established neighborhood close to downtown and its been developed, there's no more land, and you have to use what's there. You've got increasing demand, but those areas aren't getting any bigger."
Another neighborhood situated in Austin's hottest ZIP code, 78704, is Bouldin Creek. This peaceful area is a short drive from downtown's restaurants, bars, jobs and entertainment, and adjacent to Lady Bird Lake. Single-family homes here start at about $500,000 and reach up to the low millions.
"You want to catch it before it gets too expensive. If you want to continue to be able to afford Austin at your present income, you really need to buy now," Bramlett says.
Demand is likely to continue in established neighborhoods like this one, with excellent schools and amenities, allowing you to rent or sell at a good price. However, there are only so many houses that go on the market in Bouldin Creek, and because of the large number of people searching, multiple-offer situations are common.
"Tarrytown is one of the more expensive and established neighborhoods. You'll see single-family home prices beginning at $700,000 up to well into the millions," Shurr says.
A part of old Austin, Tarrytown is close to downtown and great schools. In the 78703 ZIP code, you'll find Lake Austin, many trees, houses with character and a neighborhood that's pedestrian-friendly.
Prices are still higher in this area, and it's also a matter of timing. If you're serious about buying here, you'll need to pay attention to the market as homes can go under contract in a couple days. This is especially true in the summer, when homes move the fastest.
Circle C Ranch
"Circle C is a name brand that most people know in the Southwest Austin area, that the good schools and parks in this family-driven area make it a wonderful place to be," Gibson says. There's "high demand here from families who want their kids in those schools whether it's buying or renting."
The Circle C area includes ZIP codes 78739 and 78749, and features large, planned communities with green spaces, pools and courts for recreational sports. Although it's farther from downtown, it still surrounds MoPac (Highway 1), which provides easy access to Central Austin. The neighborhood is also near Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, restaurants and Whole Foods.
Single-family homes in Circle C Ranch average about $450,000. Gibson recommends finding an agent who specializes in these areas and who can find pocket or off-market listings to help you get in the door before the long buyer line starts.
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