Archive for February, 2011

Waco After the Crash: Where Are We Today?

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

The financial crisis slammed just about every community across America in 2008, and the Waco housing market—even robust Waco real estate—was not immune.

Overall, home prices dropped by an average of $10,000 in 2008, according to the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M. Nearly 500 fewer homes were sold in 2009 than in 2006. And 2009 saw 1.2 percent negative growth in employment.

So where are we today?

Thankfully, the Waco housing market has two major advantage perpetually working in its favor:

Prime location:

Midway between Austin/San Antonio and Dallas/Ft. Worth, Waco benefits from the constant flow of traffic moving between these larger urban hubs along the I-35 corridor, which makes for a bottomless well of capital getting poured perpetually into the city. Even though few of these folks are stopping to, say, buy a home, healthy, recession-proof aspects of the economy like this attract permanent businesses and homeowners.

Furthermore, it’s the largest city in a nearly 300 square mile region (further, if you project out into West Texas), which makes it a destination for a broad array of goods and services. The city’s largest employer—Providence Health Center—reflects this.

College town:

Waco is a classic example of a strong college-based economy. It benefits not only from Baylor—the oldest continually operating university in Texas—but also  McLennan Community College and Texas State Technical College.

This matters to the economy for two reasons:

  1. Colleges and universities are largely recession-proof—especially prestigious ones like Baylor, where enrollment doesn’t drop during economic slumps. They create large, affluent communities of faculty with money to spend. Their support needs provide constant sources of lower-skilled employment. And the large student bodies support robust restaurant, shopping, and entertainment sectors. Baylor University will anchor the Waco economy year in, year out without fail for the foreseeable future.
  2. College towns are bursting with real estate opportunities—both directly around campus, and in outlying neighborhoods. Every year, thousands and thousands of new residents arrive, and thousands and thousands of residents leave. This permanently in-flux atmosphere means that homes will always be in demand, and home values will remain strong.

The numbers reflect this:

As rough as 2008 was for the area, the housing market has seen growth over the previous year in every month since October of 2009. And even in 2009, when unemployment ballooned to 6.7 percent, it was still in much better shape than most of the nation (at the same time, Texas was hit with a nearly 3 percent drop in employment). According to Trulia, more than 600 homes are currently for sale, for an average of $158,000 each.

Investing here in college real estate—whether you’re a parent of a student, a college professor, or just a Waco resident looking for a smart real estate opportunity—is a great idea.

Contact our Baylor real estate experts for more information.

Textbook Rentals: Save Money, Save Stress

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Let’s say you actually bought the textbook for, say, a post-grad course with that attractive exchange student on the agricultural affects of the Soviet collapse in Belarus. And let’s say the book is one of those big, fat, expensive ones (150 pages about corn alone!) that gives you back problems for years and years to come after lugging it around the Baylor campus.

And let’s say when you head over to the book store to sell it back, you learn about a new edition of the book due to come out, or about how the course was dropped from future schedules for lack of interest (kids these days just don’t care about Belarus). So now your stuck with a big, fat, expensive, back-breaking book that, since you never, ever plan to vacation on a farm in Belarus, will be best used as a new ottoman.

There’s an easy way to avoid this (surprisingly common) scenario: textbook rentals.

Simple. Money-saving. Stress-free. Textbook rental opportunities are popping up all over college towns like Austin and Waco, and for good reasons.

Textbook costs are simply staggering these days. It’s not uncommon to start off a semester at Baylor University or the University of Texas with nearly $1,000 of book costs added on to the already steep tuition. While spending money on a top-notch education is just about the smartest investment a person can make, there’s no reason to sink a ton of money into the physical equipment that comes with it.

In other words, you’ll own your education forever. You won’t, however, need to own the books that helped you get it.

A smart alternative is rentals. Here’s why:

  • No need to worry about buying an edition of a textbook that can’t be sold back.
  • No need to pay for the premium of ownership.
  • The ability to easily update from an obsolete edition to the current textbook needed.
  • No need to spend hours at a bookstore, trying to figure out what you need.
  • Access to smart, intuitive customer service.
  • Access to a comprehensive inventory of the latest editions of most textbooks.
  • No need to try and sell back books at the end of the semester.
  • Discounted prices, compared to book store listings.

So let’s take a look at two companies who are helping students save in Waco, Austin, and beyond. and both make it easy to rent textbooks with a suite of benefits and features, including:

  • Free shipping, both when you receive the textbook, and when it’s time to return it. This saves you time spent wandering the bookstore, money spent on buying a book from a site like Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and back-end costs that you might forget about on the return. You’d even save on gas money spent getting to a library.
  • Risk-free refunds, if you drop the class, or it turns out you either got the wrong book, or you got a book listed in the syllabus that you don’t really need.
  • Flexibility to extend rental periods, which gives you peace of mind should your needs for the book change over time. And if you decide you just want to keep it forever, both companies make it easy to simply pay the difference.
  • Permission to still highlight important information in books (both companies ask renters to do so carefully, and only for important information).
  • No monthly membership fees.

There’s just no reason to lose money on worthless textbooks anymore.