First-Time Homebuyers Guide 2019
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Austin real estate makes surprising shift to 'buyer's market'

Austin real estate makes surprising shift to 'buyer's market'

Young couple buying their first house
It's a buyer's market — kind of. iStock

It might not feel like it, given the seemingly unending rise in home prices, but homebuyers in the Austin metro area are gaining an edge over sellers, according to a new study from real estate marketplace Trulia. 

The study, released April 18, shows that as of January 2019, nearly 60 percent of ZIP codes in the Austin area had shifted in favor of homebuyers versus sellers compared with a year earlier. In other words, the Austin area as a whole is now more of a “buyer’s market” than a “seller’s market.”

The Trulia study shows Austin is among half of the country’s 100 largest U.S. metro areas where conditions have titled toward buyers and away from sellers. According to Trulia data, that swing is particularly evident in these Austin area codes:

  • 78645, which is just west of Lake Travis and just north of Lakeway.
  • 78669, which includes Spicewood and Pace Bend Park.
  • 78732, which is dominated by Steiner Ranch.
  • 78736, which is just south of Bee Cave.
  • 78737, which is sandwiched between Dripping Springs and Circle C.
  • 78957, which is anchored by Smithville.

Okay, but with the median home price in the Austin metro area sitting at $305,000 (and $375,000 within the city limits) as of March 2019, what’s there for a buyer to celebrate?

According to Trulia’s study, the median time on the market for a home in the Austin area was 77 days in January 2019, up from 72 days a year earlier. During the same period, the share of listings with price reductions rose from 16.6 percent to 17.1 percent.

Those indicators — homes spending more time on the market and home prices being cut — show buyers in the Austin area now enjoy more bargaining power, Trulia economist Elliott Deal says. He acknowledges, though, that it’s not easy to view Austin as a buyer’s market in light of a 7 percent hike in home values in just one year and a 60 percent spike over the past six years.

Overall, Austin homebuyers face a good news/bad news scenario.

“The longer a home stays on the market, the more likely a seller will reduce the price or accept a bid under the asking price. This certainly helps buyers in the sense that it gives them a little breathing room when making an offer,” Deal tells CultureMap. “At the same time, home values are still increasing fairly rapidly, which may be putting homes out of the reach of many, even while some better-funded buyers benefit.”

Indeed, the median home price in the Austin area crept up 0.8 percent from March 2018 to March 2019, according to the Austin Board of Realtors. 

The board says Bastrop County (8.7 percent) and Caldwell County (26.6 percent) saw the biggest jumps in median home prices during that period. They still offer the lowest median home prices in the five-county area, though — $233,750 in Bastrop County and $202,500 in Caldwell County as of March 2019.

“Because Austin’s economy is thriving and the city continues to remain one of the most popular living destinations in the country, the housing market remains extremely tight,” Kevin Scanlan, 2019 president of the Austin Board of Realtors, says in a release.