Real Estate Rumblings

Austin racked up $17 billion in home sales during another record-breaking year

Austin racked up $17 billion in home sales during another record year

Open front door of a house
Median home prices in Austin hit $461,000 last month. Photo by Ian Nolan/Getty Images

Austin home sales topped $17.5 billion last year, a fitting end to an unbelievable year that shattered sales dollar, median home price, and sales volume records month after month.

Austin Board of Realtors released its hybrid December 2020/year-end report on January 21, offering a bird's-eye view of a truly remarkable year for residential real estate. As 2020 ended, sales volume reached $17,579,802,503 — more than $4 billion more than 2019.

With that windfall came increasing median home prices inside Austin's city limits and across the five-county metro area. By the year's end, the median home price inside the Austin-Round Rock metro area hit $344,000, a 9 percent increase over 2019. Inside Austin, that number was $420,000, a 12 percent climb over last year, while Travis County's median price sat at $405,000, also a 12 percent increase.

Those who even casually watch local real estate trends are likely unsurprised by the year-end data. After a pandemic-fueled dip in spring 2020, the Austin real estate market roared back, shattering records nearly every month during the last half of the year. Interestingly, it was the pandemic — and the lifestyle changes it is fueling— that reignited the residential market in Central Texas.

“The Austin-area real estate market is experiencing extraordinarily high demand fueled by years of high population growth and employment gains, lifestyle changes following the pandemic and record-low interest rates,” Dr. James Gaines, former chief economist for the Texas Real Estate Research Center, said in the report.

“The pandemic fostered an environment where many families increased personal savings helping some transition from renting to ownership while others needed to ‘move up’ for more space while working from home. Despite a steep slowdown during shelter-in-place orders this spring, the market came roaring back in the summer with no drop-off at the end of the calendar year," Gaines continued.

December 2020
The final month of the year ended with more record-shattering prices in Austin. Median home prices inside the city hit $461,000, an 18.1 percent increase year-over-year and yet another all-time record. Residential sales increased 16.4 percent to 1,191 sales, a record for the month of December in any year, while monthly housing inventory decreased to just 0.7 months of inventory. So many records were shattered that at this point, our keyboard is tired of typing out "record."

“This is a historical and unprecedented time for our housing market,” said Susan Horton, the newly minted 2021 ABoR president. “The pandemic only increased demand for all types of housing across the region, pushing inventory to near-zero levels and creating the strongest sellers’ market Realtors have ever seen."

Travis County's median home price jumped even higher, rising 20.2 percent to $435,000 last month. Residential sales followed, rising 18.1 percent to 1,885. Housing inventory in the county is even lower than Austin proper, sitting at just 0.6 months of inventory.

Elsewhere in the region, Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, and Williamson counties had banner years of their own. In Bastrop, the median price for residential homes increased 13.5 percent, to $269,000, while home sales climbed 57.5 percent over December 2019. Caldwell's median price hit $212,500 — the lowest of the five counties, but still a substantial 7.1 percent jump from last year.

Median home prices in Hays County were $295,000 in December, a 10.9 percent rise, while Williamson's median home price rose 7.7 percent to $307,000.