Broken record

Median home prices in Austin shoot past $400,000 for first time ever

Home prices in Austin city limits break record to hit all-time high

House for sale sign
Austin's median home price climbed to $407,400 in May. iStock

Home prices inside Austin’s city limits broke a record in May that no homebuyer ever wants to see shattered.

The Austin Board of Realtors’ May 2019 Central Texas housing report shows the median price of a single-family home within Austin’s city limits soared to an all-time high of $407,400 last month, up 5.8 percent compared with May 2018. It’s the first time the city’s median home price has shot past $400,000.

In May 2018, the median price was $389,000. This April, the median home price within the city of Austin had already crept up to $394,450, according to ABOR.

Median home price refers to the midway point where half of the homes are listed above a certain price and half of them below it. Average home price is tallied by totaling all of the home prices in a given area and dividing that by the number of sales.

This most recent price spike is yet another indicator of the housing affordability crunch that has plagued the Austin area for several years, sparking fears that Central Texas is heading toward the same level of housing unaffordability that San Francisco and Silicon Valley are encountering.

In tandem with the latest surge in median home prices, home sales in the city of Austin fell 3.4 percent last month compared with May 2018, ABOR says. However, home sales jumped in Travis County (2.9 percent) as a whole, as well as in Bastrop (18.3 percent), Caldwell (21.7 percent), Hays (10.2 percent), and Williamson (8.4 percent) counties.

“A lack of middle-market housing in the city of Austin is driving demand to the suburbs,” Kevin Scanlan, 2019 ABOR president, says in a release. “While the Central Texas housing market is healthy and thriving, Austin continues to struggle with housing options that are affordable for first-time homebuyers as the median price surpasses $400,000.”

The release quoted Reyne Telles, executive director of communications and community engagement for Austin Independent School District, as saying the escalation in home prices within Austin, coupled with a rise in apartment construction, have impacted the district’s growth.

“As more families move outside the district’s boundaries, we’re taking the appropriate steps to mitigate this trend,” Telles says. “In order to adapt to this new reality and work towards increasing our student population, the school district now allows students who reside outside of AISD’s boundaries to transfer into our schools.”

Across the entire five-county Austin metro area, the median price of a single-family home hit $335,095 in May, up 4.2 percent from the same time in 2018, the board says.

By comparison, the median price of a single-family home increased in May to:

  • $275,000 across a nine-county swath of Dallas-Fort Worth, up 3 percent from the same period a year earlier.
  • $249,993 in the Houston metro area, up 2.4 percent from the same period a year earlier.
  • $238,800 in the San Antonio metro area, up 3 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Travis County, anchored by Austin, saw the median price of a single-family home climb in May to $400,000, up a whopping 8.1 percent compared with the same time last year, according to the May report.

Meanwhile, bargain-hunting homebuyers helped drive up the median home price in Caldwell County by 23.2 percent from last May to this May. The median price there now stands at $209,500. Bastrop County also witnessed a healthy boost in the median home price, jumping 7.6 percent this May to $240,000 compared with last May.

Williamson and Hays counties registered more moderate increases in median home prices in May. In Williamson County, the median price ticked up by 1.1 percent to $303,323 compared with the same time last year, the board says. Hays County experienced the region’s smallest rise in median home prices, inching up just 0.4 percent to $275,969 versus May 2018.