Elon Musk isn't the only billionaire Californian to move to Texas. Does Austin have the real estate they want?
When Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced earlier this month that he had moved to Texas, he joined a growing number of super-wealthy California transplants. Many of them have landed in Austin, and it looks like Musk will also settle in the capital city.
But the influx of Californians and others has saturated the Texas market—and challenged Austin realtors looking to meet demand with very limited supply.
Realtor Cord Shiflet, who works for the local brokerage firm Moreland Properties, confirmed this week that Musk has looked at a property in Austin.
"It seems a lot of his friends, business associates and even family members have been looking in Austin," he said.
The billionaire would be in good company if he settles in Austin. Many of his companies—including Tesla, the "Fitbit for your brain" startup Neuralink and underground tunneling venture The Boring Company—are hiring locally. And the city is home to other A-list celebrities, from Matthew McConaughey to Joe Rogan, who recently relocated his podcast business from Los Angeles to West Austin.
But its ultra-luxury housing supply is limited compared to some other Texas metros.
East of Eden
The trend of Californians moving to Austin is hardly new, but Shiflet told Austonia that it has been exacerbated over the last six months due to the pandemic and current political climate.
"I have never seen the market this strong and this crazy in every area," he said.
The reason for this exodus is simple: tax relief.
"They all come here, every one of them, for the same thing," Shiflet said.
California lawmakers recently proposed a top individual tax rate of nearly 17% , as well as a 0.4%. wealth tax. This, combined with the state's increasingly leftist politics and homelessness crisis, has pushed many of the state's wealthiest residents to look elsewhere.
The recent presidential election may also have had an impact.
"A lot of people are nervous about what Biden will do with taxes," Shiflet said, adding that Texas residency comes with the allure of no state income tax.
This certainly applies in Musk's case. The entrepreneur was recently ranked the second wealthiest person in the world, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index, and could save billions of dollars in taxes on his Tesla compensation package by living in Texas.
The pandemic is also a factor because it has allowed people to reconsider where they want to live and work, largely without the confines of office obligations.
"We've had kind of the perfect storm line up to push people to Austin these last three months," Shiflet said, adding that he expects the trend to continue, if at a slightly slower pace in the years to come.
This exodus is a two-sided coin for Austin's real estate industry.
On the one hand, it offers up the chance for major sales; on the other, the city does not always have the inventory to keep up with the current demand.
"We don't have a lot of the big, sexy real estate for the luxury buyers that places like Dallas and Houston have," Shiflet said, pointing specifically to the upscale Highland Park, Preston Hollow and River Oak neighborhoods, which offer "mega-mansions on big lots."
These are hard to come by in Austin, which may only have one $20 million home on the market at a time.
"We certainly have homes of that caliber," he said. "But we don't have a lot of them."
As a result, he and other realtors have to depend on unlisted properties and personal relationships with clients built over many years.
"We're digging every day for homes that people are willing to sell," he said. "We just need to know who these people are ... because we've got the buyers to deliver to them."
Sometimes, however, the Austin market comes up short. Shiflet said he has lost many clients to other Texas cities, especially Dallas.
Given its inventory, Austin has to attract buyers through other means.
"We're having to sell more against just the lifestyle of living here," Shiflet said.
Many of his luxury clients are looking to live on Lake Austin, on a couple-acre lot that offers privacy and a large home.
As far as what Musk may be looking for, he was tight-lipped: "One of the things celebrities and high-profile people love about Austin is we keep ... their interests confidential."
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The Food and Drug Administration will consider Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine application for emergency use authorization in 5-to-11-year-olds on Tuesday. The vaccine will likely be available to kids starting next week.
With 2.9 million Texas children in this age group, state health officials say this is a "big factor" in reducing the virality of COVID. At a Monday press conference, the Texas Department of State Health Services released info on the rollout efforts of the vaccine for children.
Here are some of the answers to your questions.
When and where will it be available?St. David's Healthcare staff unpack the first few shipments of its initial supply of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday.(St. David's Healthcare)
Assuming the FDA approves this version of the Pfizer vaccine this week, vaccines will start shipping out almost immediately with the first vaccines for children likely available next week.
DSHS has already put in an order of vaccines under the federal government's "pre-order prior to launch" program.
COVID vaccine providers will begin receiving those first shipments 1-5 days after the approval. After Monday night, DSHS will have put in three different orders for vaccines. The second shipment will arrive 3-7 days after approval and the third shipment will take place 5-9 days after the approval.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention will meet on Nov. 2 and Nov. 3 to discuss best practices for administration, allowing for the first shots to be administered after.
The state will be allocated 1.3 million doses across 814 providers in 120 counties. Individual county allocations have not been released but each county got to send a request for how many doses they may need. Federal retail pharmacies, such as H-E-B and Walgreens, are getting their own shipments.
The health department advises using its vaccine finder tool to find the nearest vaccine provider near you.
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The COVID vaccine for 5-11-year-olds is one-third of the dosage of the current vaccine available to those 12 years of age and older.
It is being identified as the orange cap vaccine, unlike the current purple cap. The purple cap vaccine cannot be administered to younger kids, according to the state health department.
And like the current vaccine, it is 95% effective. The first and second doses are the same and will be advised to be taken 21 days apart.
What are the side effects for children?
During clinical trials, it was reported that some kids in this age group felt pain at the injection site, fatigue and headaches.
The data submitted to the FDA shows no serious complications, such as cases of myocarditis inflammation of the heart muscle, or pericarditis, inflammation of the outer lining of the heart—rare complications that have been reported among young boys and men receiving the vaccine in other trials.
How will this affect herd immunity?
With so many children across the state, DSHS said "we need to have as many people vaccinated as possible."
State health officials said the herd immunity threshold is still being looked into, but with 3 million children soon to be able to get the vaccine, it will be a big factor in reducing the viral load in the state.
"Until we're able to add all the children, we'll see a bigger wave in stamping down the pandemic," DSHS' Imelda Garcia said during the conference.
Of those 12 and older, 72% are fully vaccinated in Travis County as of Monday.
I'm not sure if my child needs this vaccine. Why should I have them get it?
DSHS says this vaccine is important for young kids because it will protect the older population and others around them as well as themselves. The department says to ask experts and doctors questions if you are hesitant so you can be confident with your decision.
Tesla is officially in with the big guns.
After Hertz Global Holdings Inc. placed an order of 100,000 Teslas—the biggest single electric car purchase ever—Tesla officially hit the $1 trillion market cap for the first time.
The trillion-dollar club has some big names, including Apple, Facebook and Amazon. With the purchase, Tesla's stock shot up to more than $1,045 a share by midday Monday, a new record after topping $900 a share just a day earlier.
The $4.2 billion deal is the biggest purchase of electric vehicles to date. Hertz said it will use the Teslas to round out their fleet of electric rental cars by 2022 just months after filing for bankruptcy protection.
The news came just days after Tesla followed its leader, CEO Elon Musk, and relocated its headquarters to Austin. Austin's Giga Texas plant, which is currently finishing construction, is set to begin producing Cybertruck models at the end of 2022 and will begin "volume production" by 2023, Musk said in the meeting.
Musk celebrated the stock market victory on Twitter.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 25, 2021
Shortly after moving to Austin, Tesla saw its best quarter yet with Q3 revenue coming in at $13.76 billion—up from $8.77 billion this time last year. It was the electric car companies' ninth straight profitable quarter.
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They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?
While Northwest Arkansas isn't exactly looking to be a breakfast taco-loving, live music-having tech hub, it is branding itself as the Austin of yesteryear. And who better to come to the quickly-growing paradise than Austinites themselves?
OZ Brands is the latest NW Arkansas organization to entice Austin residents to pack up and make the move. The company, which is named after the area's Ozark Mountains, promotes travel, trails and art within the region and is owned by Runway, a NW Arkansas business investment group. Runway is headed by Walmart founder Sam Walton's grandsons, Steuart and Tom Walton.
OZ is targeting Austinites with the "One Way Out" giveaway, a program that will give at least 10 Austinites a one-way Allegiant ticket from Austin to the Northwest Arkansas National Airport.
"Fall is the perfect time to visit and explore the natural beauty of the Ozarks," the program's website reads. "Why just one way, because once you're here, you won't want to leave!"
Why swap cosmopolitan Austin for NW Arkansas' forest-filled hideaway? Just like other local programs including the Greater Bentonville Chamber of Commerce and the NW Arkansas Council, OZ Brands is looking to capitalize on priced-out Austinites who may not be pleased with the region's unprecedented growth.
"It's okay, Austin, we get it. You're tired of the tourists, the traffic, the hassle," the website says, escalating to an all-caps message reading, "YOU NEED A BREAK, AND WE ARE HERE TO GIVE IT TO YOU."
OZ is far from the first program to offer financial incentives to move to the area. Ads for Greater Bentonville began cropping up on the feeds of Austinites weeks ago as they promoted their annual tech summit, while the NW Arkansas Council rolled out similar ads. Instead of "Austin City Limits," the organizations promised "Bentonville City Limitless." If you "wish you'd bought in Austin 10 years ago," the Council promises that the area is perfect for you.
The Greater Bentonville Chamber of Commerce and NW Arkansas Council have both made moves to bring Austinites to the region. (Greater Bentonville)
Like similar programs in the past, One Way Out "is an opportunity for Austinites who no longer feel at home in their own city to see for themselves the value and qualities of Northwest Arkansas ... It's for those living in the Texas city who feel the growing pains of Austin expanding beyond its limits," the company said in a press release.
The region has recently experienced substantial growth, moving to fourth on the U.S. News and World Report's list of 150 Best Places to Live in the U.S. in 2021-2022 and enjoying an influx of businesses, tech workers and startups tired of the West Coast's crowds and priciness. And with a great arts and culture scene, a lower cost of living and even a financial incentive to move to the area, talents like film producer Kristin Mann decided it was time to swap Austin for sunnier skies in Arkansas.
"I love (Austin) how it is now, don't get me wrong, but I've always fantasized about what it might have been like before it really exploded," Mann said. "And I feel like that's similar here...There's something really unique about this town, and it feels like there's something really exciting happening here."
The contest ends Oct. 29 and is open to anyone 18 and older that lives within 50 miles of Austin. Winners must book their trip within four months of the competition and finish the trip by May 1, 2022.
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