We’re Moving! (Our blog, that is.)

Hello and thank you for reading
the Mission Mortgage blog.

We have recently updated our website,
including the integration of this blog into the main site.
The result is easier navigation between our blog and our website,
which we hope will be useful to our readers.

Please update your bookmarks to http://www.missionmortgage.com/blog

And please take a moment to review our new website.  We’d love to hear your feedback on what you like and what could be improved. We’re now using the power of WordPress to create our website, giving us more flexibility, more options, and better traffic tracking.

This site will remain available for a limited time. All of the same content, including our archive of past posts, can be accessed at our blog on our new website.

Beginning October 1, 2011, new posts will only be added to our new blog.
If you have any questions or would like to share any feedback,
please contact us at info@missionmortagage.com

Posted in Austin Facts, General Information, Mortgage News | Leave a comment

Sprague Quoted On Obama Jobs Plan

He knows how to Hook 'Em!

President Obama’s jobs plan has found a tough audience so far. He is struggling to gain the needed support in the House and Senate to push through the reforms as he designed them originally and will likely need to make some fairly substantial concessions if he wants to see the program become a reality.

Locally, the Austin American-Statesman interviewed a number of local experts about how they view the jobs plan and the potential for its success. Included in those interviewed was Mission Mortgage’s Mark Sprague.  Sprague is the Director of Business Development and is a well-respected analyst and economist covering the local marketplace in Austin, as well as regional and national trends that impact our business and real estate environments.

In the article, Sprague questions the potential impact of Obama’s jobs plan by saying that most elements of the plan are “a quick fix , which doesn’t help the economy long term.” He points to continued deficit spending as a bigger and more important problem to fix.

Mark Sprague produces a weekly subscription-based newsletter that is delivered online, currently every Friday. The newsletter, called The Mission Statement, featured a more detailed look at Sprague’s analysis of the Jobs Plan in the September 9, 2011 issue. In that issue, Sprague breaks down the jobs plan into 6 basic categories and outlines what to expect from each. He applauds some sections and questions others, while wondering if congress will be able to produce anything that both parties can endorse. To read Mark Sprague’s comments in his newsletter, The Mission Statement, please click here.

To read the full article in the Austin American-Statesman, please click here.

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Four Things To Do In Austin This Week

This feature highlights four events or activities in Austin and the surrounding area every week. If you have suggestions for events to be mentioned, please email them to info@missionmortgage.com.

 
1. Oktoberfest kicks off in Fredericksburg on Friday and continues throughout the weekend, featuring beer, food, music, beer, crafts, vendors, and beer. Weather forecast is calling for a nice cool break in the temperatures so get out and enjoy it! Click here for more info.

2. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) in Austin are presenting their annual Homes Tour on Saturday and Sunday. The tour features homes throughout the Austin area and this year, they have even put together a map for bicyclists to use to enjoy the tour. Full details can be found by clicking here.

3. Tuesday is the annual HAAM benefit day. HAAM (Health Alliance for Austin Musicians) provides important medical services to area musicians who would otherwise not be covered by insurance. They rely on donations and fund raising to pay their operating costs and Tuesday is your chance to pitch in as dozens of stores and restaurants throughout Austin will be donating 5% of their proceeds to HAAM. For a list of participating businesses, please click here.

4. Another week in Austin means another week of live music. If you are ready to listen, here’s what we suggest: Tameca Jones at Elephant Room on Friday, Incubus at The Backyard on Saturday (Young the Giant opens), Iration at Emo’s East on Saturday, and Monique Ortiz at Momo’s on Sunday.  
 

Compiled by Michael Ikeya, Marketing Coordinator for Mission Mortgage, September 30, 2011
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Harris Hill Road – An Austin Gem

Here is our next suggestion in our “Austin Gems” category. We look for the lesser-known activities and events that make Austin a truly special place to live. Funny thing – most people hate traffic, but enjoy driving.  Austin’s traffic may put you into fits at times, but if you enjoy driving, this Austin Gem is for you.

We had to go just a little out of Austin for this Gem, but we found a great one to share with you. Introducing: Harris Hill Road – a 1.8-mile, 11-turn asphalt road course open to the public. You think you can handle the turns? Now you can give it a try.

Harris Hill Road offers classes and training, as well as special membership packages. Full membership gives you unlimited access to the course using your own road-safe vehicle (cars and motorcycles only, no trucks). Membership also provides access to a number of special events, some of which are exclusive to members. Family memberships and corporate memberships are also available.

If you aren’t sure if you are ready to join, take a tour of the facilities and let them show you all the features your membership includes. Better yet, sign up for a mini-school and get your feet wet on the actual track before you sign up for a full membership. The mini-school not only provides an introduction to the course, but also a chance to put your car to the test on the full road course.

Car clubs can rent out the course, including the clubhouse, to host a unique meet-up. Businesses can create memorable team building events and corporate celebrations by renting out the track and offering laps to their employees, clients, partners, and friends.

To learn more about Harris Hill Road, please visit their website.

To read about our previous Austin Gems, click here or use the link in the side bar on the right.

 
If you have suggestions for other Austin Gems you think we should post, please email us at marketing@missionmortgage.com.
 
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Spredfast Will Hire In Austin

Startup technology company, Spredfast, has recently received a round of investment capital totalling approximately $12 million to help with expansion.  The company already has 50 employees in the Austin area with plans to hire an additional 50 in sales, marketing, and product development. They plan to fill the new roles within the next 6 months.  The company has raised a total of $16 million in venture funding so far.

The company is also planning to expand it’s office space by leasing additional square footage near the existing office. The new lease will bring the total square footage leased by the company to 16,000.

Spredfast already has an impressive stable of clients, including Nokia, Toms, Wells Fargo and AARP.  According to a story in the Austin American-Statesman, the company provides a centralized platform for companies to manage and monitor all of their social networking activities and efforts. They focus primarily on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and various blogging sites. The competitive difference between Spredfast and the various other social network dashboard programs is the ability to manage multiple products or brands under one umbrella site, something that is particularly useful for businesses.

Congratulations to Spredfast on their recent funding. Mission Mortgage of Texas, Inc. wishes you much success now and in the future.

To read the original Austin American-Statesman article, please click here.

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New UT Austin Medical School Would Bring Jobs

Recently, State Senator Kirk Watson proposed a 10-point plan to boost medical education, research, and treatment in Central Texas with plans for a University of Texas medical school in Austin. He spoke to a luncheon group from the Real Estate Council of Austin (RECA) and outlined his idea.

Senator Watson (D-Austin) envisions a massive investment in Austin to create a medical school, complete with a state-of-the-art training hospital, in collaboration with Seton Healthcare. The University of Texas would provide the medical degree and educational components of the plan. While he recognizes the challenge he is up against, he expressed a strong desire to move this past talk and into action. 

The Austin American-Statesman covered the story and provided a transcript of Senator Watson’s 10-point plan. They also looked into the big question of how to pay for such a project, the answer to which seems to be that we don’t have enough information to make a guess. That probably means a very large ticket price, but the concept would be an unquestioned boost to the area. While neither the Statesman story, nor the Senator directly address jobs, the impact on our employment would be significant. Here is the list of Senator Watson’s goals – we’ve added comments about the types jobs each step could create.

State Senator Kirk Watson’s 10 Goals

1. Build a medical school in Austin with everything from student housing to faculty members who would teach and also treat patients.

[Architects, engineers, construction, trades people, technology, infrastructure, landscaping, and labor to build the school. Administration, customer care, doctors, nurses, additional faculty, staff, and support to keep the school running.]

2. Build a modern teaching hospital to replace University Medical Center Brackenridge.

[Architects, engineers, construction, trades people, technology, infrastructure, landscaping, and labor to build the school. Administration, customer care, doctors, nurses, additional faculty, staff, and support to keep the school running.]

3. Modernize community health clinics whose patients would include those lacking health insurance.

[Planning, construction, and labor to update facilities. Educators, health providers, administrative, and support roles to complete ongoing operations.]

4. Develop a research institute by building on the collaboration between the Seton Healthcare Family and the University of Texas System.

[Scientists, researchers, analysts, technology, patent lawyers, business and marketing, support and administrative positions would be required.]

5. Launch a technology incubator to commercialize scientific discoveries.

[Scientists, programmers, technology, patent lawyers, business and marketing, support and administrative positions necessary.]

6. Start a comprehensive cancer treatment center.

[Architects, engineers, construction, trades people, technology, infrastructure, landscaping, and labor to build a treatment center. Administration, customer care, doctors, nurses, additional faculty, staff, and support to operate the center.]

7. Provide psychiatric care and facilities that include crisis centers, emergency care and services aimed at reducing adolescent suicide.

[Architects, engineers, construction, trades people, technology, infrastructure, landscaping, and labor to build or update crisis centers and emergency care facilities. Administration, customer care, psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors, nurses, additional faculty, staff, and support to operate the center.]

8. Improve water lines and other infrastructure in the area around Brackenridge, Waterloo Park and Waller Creek so an area near Interstate 35 may “be planned in a way that allows old barriers to be torn down, and communities that have been wrongly split … to be connected.”

[Engineers, construction, trades people, landscaping, and labor to improve infrastructure.]

9. Strengthen the medical examiner’s office by allowing medical students and doctors to train there.

[Administration, customer care, doctors, nurses, additional faculty, staff, and support for office personnel.]

10. Resolve funding for a medical school, the No. 1. stumbling block to building one.

[Sales, marketing, consultation, administrative, legal staff and lobbyists.]

These are merely the immediate employment impacts of creating a medical research and teaching center in our region. The businesses who support those people would also grow and expand, creating more job opportunities. This includes everyone from real estate agents to bartenders, accountants to parts suppliers. The trickle down impact would be enormous.

To read the full article in the Austin American-Statesman, please click here.

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Austin Apartment Market – Sprague Quoted in Statesman

The downtown Austin apartment market continues to show strength. A recent announcement for a new high-rise luxury apartment building is a good indication of the confidence that investors and developers have in the urban core rental market.

Third and Brazos will be the location of the new multi-unit facility, where the Whitney Printing Co. building has sat for years. The developers are planning on building 277 luxury apartments in 16 stories.

Another new tower will is planned for Fifth and Bowie, where a 34-story apartment building will provide 350 apartments plus 45,000 sq. ft. of office space.

In the Austin American-Statesman article announcing these new buildings, reporter Shonda Novak contacted Mark Sprague, Director of Business Development for Mission Mortgage, to seek his opinion and analysis of what we are currently seeing in downtown Austin.

“The inventory we have is not enough,” he said, noting that more than 10,000 single-family homes were rented last year in the Austin area, and fewer than 500 are currently available.

And most leasing agents and management groups, Sprague said, “will tell you that ‘the apartment you look at today will be gone tomorrow.'”

To read the complete Austin American-Statesman article, please click here.
Click here to read a previous blog post about the Austin apartment market.
To read an earlier blog post about rising rent prices in Austin, click here.

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Four Things To Do In Austin This Week

This feature highlights four events or activities in Austin and the surrounding area every week. If you have suggestions for events to be mentioned, please email them to info@missionmortgage.com.

1. A new artist exhibit featuring Monica Alfonso, Matt Rebholz, and Roxana Tuff opens on Friday at the Gallery Black Lagoon with an artist reception from 7-10pm. The gallery will also have open hours on Sunday and Monday or by appointment. Click here for more details.

2. The Pecan Street Festival is back, featuring 60 bands, arts, crafts, food, and more. It is the oldest and largest art festival in central Texas and is celebrating its 30th year. The festival runs Saturday and Sunday and more info can be found by clicking here.

3. It’s Austin Museum Day on Sunday featuring 32 opportunities to visit area museums at no charge, many of which will offer special events and installations. We recommend the Umlauf Sculpture Gardens, The Texas Medical Association History of Medicine Gallery, and the Texas Music Museum. Click here for the complete info.

4. The music continues in Austin, and here are this week’s recommendations: McPullish at Ruta Maya on Saturday, Queensryche at Emo’s East on Sunday, Pat Metheny at One World Theatre on Tuesday, and Pepper at Stubb’s on Thursday.
 

Compiled by Michael Ikeya, Marketing Coordinator for Mission Mortgage, September 23, 2011
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Austin’s Lead Paint Removal Program

A grant has made funds available to Austin residents who may be exposed to toxic lead paint for safe removal. The program has income limits and a child requirement, but for those who qualify the labor and materials are free.  Because lead paint was banned for use in residences in 1978, only homes built before that date will qualify for the program.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued the $2.5 million grant to the City of Austin to assist approximately 180 residences. The dangers of lead paint have been well documented and include developmental issues, illness, and death, especially for infants and young children. The goal of the program is to make homes safe for occupancy for a segment of the population who would otherwise not be able to take on such an expensive project.

According to a story in the Austin American-Statesman, there are specific eligibility requirements for the program. The story states that, “to be eligible, Austin residents must have incomes that don’t exceed 80 percent of the city’s median family income, or $59,050 for a family of four. They also must have a child under the age of 6 living in the home or visiting at least six hours a week.”

For the complete story in the Austin American-Statesman, please click here.

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Austin Jobs Increase in August

The Texas Workforce Commission recently released August employment data showing Austin experiencing a net gain of 5,600 jobs from July. The increase resulted in the local unemployment rate dropping to 7.3%, according to a story by the Austin American-Statesman.

Austin, after losing over 8,000 public sector jobs in July, rebounded with 1,200 new public sector jobs filled in August. Government jobs are a key component to Austin’s economic condition, due to the number of employees working in the State Capitol and the supporting departments. The increase in public sector jobs comes at a time when government jobs continue to be cut nationwide.

Year-over-year Austin gained 15,500 jobs, for a growth rate of about 2%. More importantly, the unemployment rate went from 7.6% in July to 7.3% in August.

By way of comparison, Texas lost 1,300 jobs in August, the first net loss in 11 months. The state gained 8,100 private sector jobs in August, but the loss of public sector positions brought down the overall results. The private sector has gained jobs for 20 straight months in the state. The decrease in jobs moved Texas’ unemployement rate from 8.4% in July to 8.5% in August. This marks the highest state-level unemployment rate since 1987, yet is still better than the national rate of 9.1%.

To see the complete story in the Austin American-Statesman, please click here.

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