Via Austin Business Journal
Home sales are underway in a massive master-planned community in Georgetown.
More than 150 lots have already been delivered to homebuilders in Parmer Ranch, the 454-acre development that is set to have 1,000 residential units, 100 acres of commercial development, 47 acres of parkland and schools near Williams Drive and Ronald Reagan Boulevard. Work started in 2020.
The builders in the first phase are GFO Home LLC (44 homes), Gehan Homes Ltd. (43), Empire Communities LLC (42) and Sitterle Homes Ltd. (26). The first homes are expected to be completed within the next two months, according to developer Joe Owen, president of Owen Holdings Inc.
He said those builders have also all purchased lots in the community’s second phase, which is expected to be completed in four or five months. That includes 78 Sittlerle Homes as part of the Cottages at Parmer Ranch, with the remainder split between Empire (48), Gehan (47) and Sittlerle (47).
The developer is working on permitting for an additional 375 homes in two more phases and said the community is on track to have about 1,000 homes once completed.
“We are trying to accommodate the current demand for homes,” Owen said.
Empire Communities LLC announced Oct. 25 that it is now selling 50-foot properties, with those homes starting in the $400,000 range and coming in nine floor plans ranging from 1,554 to 2,654 square feet and up to five bedrooms, with one or two stories.
The company also said 40-foot homesites will go on sale later this year. The one- and two-story designs range from 1,414 to 2,393 square feet and feature three to four bedrooms, large kitchen islands, walk-in closets, flex space and numerous upgrades, according to the announcement.
“We aren’t releasing pricing on these floor plans just yet, but I can say that pricing will start in the $300,000s, allowing home buyers to get into a brand new home in a treed master-planned community in Georgetown,” Terry Shuffler, Empire’s Central Texas division president, said in a statement. “It’s a rare opportunity and we expect these homes to go quickly.”
GFO Home housing at Parmer Ranch starts at $469,990, with one and two-story designs, three to five bedrooms and 2,041 to 3,147 square feet, according to its website. Sittlerle has homes on 60-foot lots, ranging from three to five bedrooms and 1,835 to 3,262 square feet, starting at $489,000 on its website. Gehan has homes starting at $339,990, with one and two stories, three or four bedrooms and 1,520 to 3,050 square feet, according to its website.
Georgetown has been one of the fastest-growing cities in the country in recent years. Its population increased from 47,400 in 2010 to 67,176 in 2020, according to U.S. Census Bureau numbers.
An environment ripe for higher home prices
No single development will solve Central Texas’ housing shortage. Metro-wide housing inventory stood at 1.1 months in September, according to recent data from the Austin Board of Realtors, well below the six months housing experts want to see in a balanced market. But builders are rushing to put homes in the ground, especially on the periphery of the metro where land is cheaper. Other large subdivision plans to come to light recently include a 400-acre project from D.R. Horton in Bastrop, 330 Toll Brothers homes in Leander, up to 375 single-family homes on the old site of Camp Doublecreek in Round Rock and Thunder Rock, which could eventually bring 2,000 single-family homes to Marble Falls.
In Williamson County, home to Georgetown, housing inventory was 0.8 months in September, according to ABOR. It is among the fastest growing markets in the five-county Austin metro, with 1,269 sales that month — versus 1,796 sales in Travis County, 457 sales in Hays County, 126 sales in Bastrop County and 34 sales in Caldwell County. Housing prices are rising rapidly in Williamson County, as its median price rose 37.5% year over year to $435,000 in September, compared with $510,000 in Travis, $365,000 in Hays, $335,000 in Bastrop and $259,000 in Caldwell.
Owen admitted the price points at Parmer Ranch are higher than they expected when starting the development, but those costs escalated with the increases in building costs, as well as demand. But he said the community will standout with its walkability and amenities. The school sites could soon break ground if they are approved as part of Georgetown Independent School District’s current bond package proposal.
“It’s an environment ripe for higher home prices, unfortunately,” he said. “I think in this specific area we will be the master-planned mixed-use community with the most amenities. … We see ourselves more as a community than most of our competition.”
Parmer Ranch amenities include a 10-acre district park. Owen said that the park should be completed within the next two months, and includes a zip line, dig pits, hammocks, seating areas, workout stations, water features, trails and the customary play areas. An amenity center is likely to be completed as part of a third phase of the community.
He added that the 100-acre commercial portion will be done “sooner than expected,” but is still a few years out. It is expected to include office and retail space and Owen said discussions are ongoing with potential tenants. He said he owns a site across the street with more than 30 acres and recently signed a deal for the owners of Mesquite Creek Outfitters and The Golden Rule in Georgetown to open a brewery.
“It’s a lot of work to get here. There’s no rest for the weary,” Owen said. “It’s going quick is what it is. There’s no time for successes. To me, it’s like a war each phase – you win one battle and go on to the next.”
He said the ultimate goal was to create a more of a “true community,” where neighbors can congregate and do more than just have a house. They’ll be space for kids to play and a bandstand for people to gather on weekend nights.
“When homeowners get in there, they’ll start to shape the direction the neighborhood goes. We want to give them the opportunity to have a little more than elsewhere,” he said. “We want to provide those areas to where families could connect, kids turn off their devices and get outside and enjoy nature.”