Lap of luxury

Austin million-dollar home sales soar as wealthy buyers flood market

Austin million-dollar home sales soar as wealthy buyers flood market

4433 River Garden Trail house austin
Travis County is leading the nation in growth of million-dollar home sales.  Photo courtesy of Gottesman Residential Real Estate

Wealthy homebuyers are flooding the Austin market. A new study from Realtor.com shows that among 95 U.S. counties, Travis County leads the pack for growth in sales of homes priced $1 million or more.

From August 2018 to August 2019, the volume of million-dollar home sales in Travis County soared 66 percent, says the study, released November 13. That was the highest percentage of any county tracked by Realtor.com.

“The Austin luxury market continues to thrive because of low inventory and high demand,” says Laura Gottesman, broker/owner of Austin-based Gottesman Residential Real Estate. “Buyers are willing to pay a premium for something special and unique. They also realize that as Austin evolves and grows, their investments will appreciate.”

Javier Vivas, director of economic research at Realtor.com, attributes the jump in million-dollar home sales in Austin to job and salary growth. 

Through the end of September, the Austin metro area notched a one-year job growth rate of 3.4 percent, according to the Austin Chamber of Commerce. A report from job website Hired.com indicates the average tech worker in Austin made $125,000 a year in 2018, up 6 percent from the previous year.

Austin’s economy “continues to outpace the rest of the country,” Vivas says.

“This is attracting an influx of skilled workers and three-figure salaries, driving population and household-formation growth at double the pace of other markets,” he adds.

Darin Walker, an Austin Realtor who sells high-end homes at Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty, cites the “mass exodus” of homeowners in Northern California as a key driver of demand for million-dollar homes in Austin. A new survey indicates 35 percent of San Francisco residents are likely to leave the city within the next three years.

Austin is consistently mentioned as one of the top destinations for people planning a move away from the San Francisco Bay Area. Among the magnets are a lower cost of living in Austin, a more tax-friendly environment, and a robust startup scene.

As a result of the continuing “mass migration” to the Austin area from California and other states, the local market for luxury homes is sizzling, according to Walker.

“Many of the higher-end buyers coming from California markets are adding pressure on inventory and pricing,” he says. “Demand for higher-end new construction and special luxury properties has been on the rise. Many higher-end luxury homes are selling off-market and at record prices.”

From August 2018 to August 2019, the median price of a luxury home in Travis County climbed 4.2 percent to $2.74 million, the study says. As defined by Realtor.com, a luxury home ranks among the top 5 percent for sale prices of all homes during the past year. The 95 “luxury” counties analyzed by Realtor.com are in 51 metro areas.

The only other Texas county to break into the top 20 for the year-over-year rise in million-dollar home sales was Tarrant County (Fort Worth). There, sales volume climbed 23.8 percent, putting it in a tie for 13th place In the Realtor.com ranking.

In Tarrant County, the median price for a luxury home in August 2019 remained steady at $1.85 million versus the same time a year earlier, according to the study.