Study: Friendly Neighborhoods Reduce Risk of Heart Attack

Knowing your neighbors may be good for your heart — and not just emotionally — according to a new study by psychologists at the University of Michigan. The more social connections you have in your neighborhood, the less likely you are to die from a heart attack, according to the study, which was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Texas economic activity improved in June....

The Texas Economic Activity Index grew 1.1 percentage points in June, according to Comerica Bank.

The index’s June reading of 111.9 is 40 points, or 56 percent, above the index cyclical low of 71.7. The index averaged 105 points for all of 2013, three points above the average for 2012.

Neighborhood associations weigh in on urban rail debate....

Be it a moped or a car, driving is the lifestyle for most in Austin. "My first thought was always, 'Where am I going to park?' and, now it's, 'What's the best route for me?,'" said Meredith Powell, vice chair of the downtown Austin Neighborhood Association or DANA.

That lifestyle of driving has changed for Meredith Powell, who lives downtown and does most of her commuting by foot these days.

Steps Government Can Take to Spur Home Buying

We at Select Austin Real Estate are big fans of Dr Mark Dotzour at the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M and when he speaks, we listen. He recently identified four steps the U.S. government can take to encourage more home buying. We thought it would be interesting to read through.

"First, the regulatory body writing the Dodd-Frank rules can hurry up and complete their task," said Dotzour. "They are way overdue. The uncertainty this creates causes lenders to be risk averse, especially toward mortgage borrowers."

As prices rise, Austin's million-dollar-plus homes take longer to sell....

Luxury homes in Austin priced above $1 million are staying on the market longer but more are selling at higher prices than a year ago. That’s the assessment of Jonathan Boatwright, co-founder of Realty Austin, who is known for his data crunching.

Smart Homes Draw Security Concerns

As homes get more connected to technology, security researchers are sounding the alarm on the vulnerabilities smart homes may pose.

The home automation market is expected to soar to $16.4 billion by 2019. But with that surging growth, researchers are asking for more attention to be drawn to the security of these devices to make sure they don't reveal too much about home owners should they fall into the wrong hands.

All-Cash Sales 'Subsiding'

There were fewer all-cash buyers nationwide in the second quarter, and an expert says that's both good and bad news for first-time and noncash homebuyers.

“The flurry of purchases by institutional investors and other cash buyers that kicked off two years ago when U.S. home prices hit bottom is finally showing signs of subsiding,” said Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac vice president, noting that U.S. median home prices hit their low in March 2012.

As Austin home sales drop, prices keep creeping upward....

Two data sources compiled the latest information about home sales and values in the Austin market and suggests some plateauing in what had been a longstanding upward sales trajectory.

The Austin Board of Realtors said sales in July dropped 3 percent compared with the same month in 2013, marking the first dip in velocity since May 2011. Still, median and average prices for homes sold increased in July to $250,000 up 9 percent compared to a year ago. The average home price in July was $318,856, 7 percent more than a year ago.

Inc. magazine ranks Austin a top spot for fast-growing companies....

With 87 companies on its 2014 list of the 5,000 fastest-growing companies in America, Inc. magazine ranks Austin as the No. 4 city in the nation for fast-growing companies.

The magazine, which released both lists Wednesday, noted the area's constantly "replenishing talent pool out of the University of Texas," plus the presence of Round Rock-based Dell Inc. and other major technology companies.

First-Time Buyers Stuck as Entry-Level Homes Dry Up

For-sale inventories may be at nearly a two-year high, but first-time home buyers are still finding themselves shut out of the housing market, being outbid and still not finding enough choices in their price range, Reuters reports.


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