Home starts up in LHISD

By SHELLY WILKISON

A report on the housing activity in the Liberty Hill Independent School District during the fourth quarter of 2012 reflects the renewed confidence of home builders in the area, district officials say.

As more rooftops dot the landscape, school enrollment continues to climb. Current enrollment is 2,891 — an increase of 33 students since the Christmas holidays.

During the regular meeting of the LHISD Board of Trustees Feb. 18, Superintendent Rob Hart shared a demographic report compiled for the school district by School District Strategies. He said the report shows builders “are very confident in this area.”

During the fourth quarter of 2012, there were 28 home starts and 21 closings in the school district, bringing the total home starts for 2012 to 104 — an increase of 33 percent from 2011.

The total number of closings dropped by 11 percent from 2011. Last year, there were 74 new homes occupied compared to 83 in 2011,  the report states.

However, the number of new home closings during the fourth quarter raised Liberty Hill to 14th place in the rankings of Greater Austin school districts. A report of third quarter 2012 housing activity released in November 2012 showed LHISD  ranked 15th of 20 districts in the number of home closings for that time period.

Leander continues to hold the top slot for home closings, reporting 1,405 in 2012 compared to 1,291 in 2011.

Hart said the increase in home starts in LHISD last year reflects the most annual starts in the district since 2007.

“Homes are selling at a rapid pace,” he said. “So, if you put a For Sale sign in your yard today, you better be packed and ready to go because it will happen quick.”

The median price for a home continues to increase. In the fourth quarter of 2012, the median price increased to $259,909. One year ago, the median price was $228,767.

The report shows Rancho Sienna had the most annual starts by a single subdivision since 2007, recording 52 in 2012.

The fourth quarter report shows there are 11,590 total potential residential lots planned inside the school district. There are 840 are fully developed vacant lots available now and 284 approved future lots.

Hart said with each new home comes 1.29 new students for Liberty Hill schools.

In February alone, 18 new students enrolled, Hart said, adding that the growth was evenly spread throughout the grade levels.

Based on housing and enrollment trends, the new high school could have as many at 970 students show up for class when it opens in August, Hart said. That number reflects about 100 more students than currently enrolled at the high school level. The new campus, which is located on 96 acres west of Liberty Hill on State Highway 29, is designed for 1,600 students.

The report released Monday also showed foreclosures were down in 2012, with the number of forced sales at 14 compared to 19 in 2011.

There were also 173 resales in 2012 — an increase of 44 percent compared to 2011.