Water levels may fluctuate, but the siren call of lakefront living is stronger than ever.
When Phil Rosenbaum purchased property at 3705 Westlake Drive in 1998, he envisioned a home along Lake Austin where his daughters could grow up and attend some of the best public schools in the state. Two years later, his 8,000-square-foot Mediterranean-style home was complete—set upon a large, sloped lot with several heritage oak trees, many of which were more than 100 years old. Because the lot sat back and above lake level, the retired entrepreneur and his family enjoyed a sort of solitude that others with waterfront properties might not.
“It’s truly an oasis of privacy here. We can see boats going by in the distance,” he says. “It’s been a wonderful place to live.” But now that Rosenbaum and his wife are empty nesters, they are ready to downsize and simplify by moving to a high-rise condo downtown. His home is on the market for $8.5 million. “We’ve got our own little community along the water, while still being close to the center of the city. I wonder if I will be chagrined after I sell it,” he chuckles.
“We’ve got our own little community along the water, while still being close to the center of the city.” —Phil Rosenbaum
As water levels in Lake Travis and Lake Austin fluctuate, so do home values of the city’s lakefront properties; despite the yearslong drought (which was recently ended by the late May floods), waterfront has been the ultimate in Central Texas luxury living. Over the past couple of years, homes along Lake Travis depreciated about 30 to 35 percent because of the drought, which created opportunities for investors and potential homeowners, says Michele Turnquist, co-owner of Engel & Völkers Austin (512-328-3939).
“There are a lot of great values out there,” says Turnquist, a fourth-generation Austinite, who has developed and marketed Lake Austin waterfront property since the mid-1980s. Her reputation is fitting for a woman whose great-great-grandfather former Mayor John McDonald was the original namesake for Lake McDonald, which is now Lake Austin.
While Austin’s lakefront properties have always been in demand, the city has had an even higher profile in recent years thanks in part to Formula One racing returning to the United States in 2012 at the Circuit of the Americas. “A lot of international buyers are looking at Austin for investment, and some are actually moving here,” Turnquist says.
The record-setting heavy rains and flooding in May ended the area’s severe drought and brought Lake Travis back to levels it hadn’t seen in years, giving homeowners a reason to rejoice, says Mary Anne McMahon, broker/owner of RE/MAX Posh Properties (724-b Lamar Blvd., 512-947-9684). Says McMahon: “As our client selling his home at 215 Bella Riva put it, ‘The beauty of Lake Travis is back, augmenting the beautiful setting of my home.’” Buyers from all over the country are still flocking to Austin, and lakefront properties are at the top of their lists.
“Many are moving from out of state for the Austin economy,” says Eric Moreland of Moreland Properties (3825 Lake Austin Blvd., 512-480-0848), which is marketing Rosenbaum’s home. “And everybody loves waterfront.”