Prospective homebuyers in the Austin area are facing an increasingly difficult hurdle. Austin-area houses hit a record median sales price of $476,000 in January, thanks in part to the expansion of major tech companies, plus other factors such as low mortgage interest rates, housing supply shortages, and a booming state economy. Nonetheless, there are still options for those with an open mind about location and renovations.
Real estate agent Carlye Jane at Twelve Rivers Realty says hope for new homeowners lives in “pocket neighborhoods” — smaller subdivisions with a mix of older and newly built houses. Using February housing reports from the Austin Board of Realtors, Jane identified a roughly current median price of $565,000 for homes in the Austin city limits. (This is higher than it would be for the greater Austin area, with houses further from the city center).
“I keep hearing people talk about crash…Realistically as somebody who's in it every day, I really don't see that,” says Jane. Considering the rental market is under pressure, too, she suggests thinking about long-term cost. “My advice for anybody who's thinking about buying a house is just to do it, and do it as soon as you can.”
Jane picked five promising Austin ZIP codes for new homeowners, with listings near the Austin median price of $565,000. These pocket 'hoods are all located north of Buda and south of Pflugerville.
78748 — Buckingham Estates, Olympic Heights, Bauerle Ranch
This area mostly centers on West Slaughter Lane and Menchaca Road, bounded on the east by I-35. Jane points out businesses that have made the far south portion of Austin exciting to an increasing number of recent homebuyers, including Armadillo Den, Lustre Pearl South, and the Moontower Saloon. Even as Austin continues to spread south, this area contains two substantial nature parks. Buckingham Estates offers smaller homes built in the '80s, while Olympic Heights and Bauerle Ranch have newer, more modern homes.
78744 — Springfield, Dove Springs, Crossing at Onion Creek
Check on Zillow and there are almost always houses listed around McKinney Falls State Park, a beautiful collection of pools situated around Onion Creek. While Jane acknowledges parts of this ZIP code are in high demand, there are three neighborhoods where first-time homebuyers will see more of a range in prices. These woodsy little subdivisions give daily opportunities for country living without sacrificing relatively easy access to downtown and major businesses along I-35.
78727 — Milwood, Lamplight Village
Austinites staying close to offices up north tend to center around Parmer Lane, one of the last Austin landmarks before Pflugerville. While these neighborhoods are a bit of a drive from downtown, they’re right across from bustling urban outposts the Domain and the Arboretum. Although these neighborhoods offer easy access to lots of businesses, they’re also close to one of Austin’s sprawling green spaces, the Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park.
78728 — Wells Branch
Most of these neighborhoods represent cute, smaller homes that save money by squeezing onto less land. Jane recommends Wells Branch for homebuyers looking for a little extra space without breaking the bank. It’s about as far from downtown as one could get without hitting Pflugerville, but that far north, Mopac and I-35 are only about 2 miles apart, so the drive is pretty straightforward. It’s also a chance to get to know the less-crowded Austin suburbs of Round Rock and Georgetown.
78754 — Pioneer Crossing
This northeast area is one of Austin’s sparsest, offering opportunities to spread out without straying as far north. The houses at Pioneer Crossing border the Walnut Creek Greenbelt and Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farms, a common field trip and movie set destination. That means daily walks could include longhorns, donkeys, and the sound of blacksmiths working. Lots of new developments are popping up in the surrounding area, meaning something is always available and usually affordable.