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Austin real estate market bucks nationwide downturn caused by COVID-19

Austin real estate market bucks nationwide downturn caused by COVID-19

House for sale sign
New home listings in Austin are up — despite coronavirus.  iStock

We're coming up on the best time to list your Austin house, but thanks to COVID-19, the real estate landscape looks pretty different this year. Zillow reports that 3D home tours are up 408 percent from February, and newly listed homes nationwide were down 27.1 percent from a year ago in the first week of April.

But not in Austin.

While the rest of the U.S. is seeing a 19 percent drop in new listings since March 1, Austin actually saw an increase. New listings here are up 12.8 percent since the beginning of the month, and active listings are up 17.2 percent since the same period. This does likely correlate to homes sitting on the market for longer, but total U.S. inventory has only grown by 2.5 percent since March 1.

"It is clear that many would-be home sellers are adopting a wait-and-see approach as uncertainty continues to rule," says Skylar Olsen, senior principal economist at Zillow. "Our understanding of U.S. economic conditions is changing weekly, if not daily, and early unemployment figures are striking, so it's understandable that some are hesitant to put their home on the market.

"It is possible that this year's busy home shopping season is pushed into winter as some opt to hang back, but activity continues from those who need to buy or sell for a job move or another major life event. What's not likely is that the bulk of potential home sellers and buyers simply throw up their hands and pull back from the market entirely."

By March 1, new listings in Austin were up 20.2 percent from the same time a year ago. Fast-forward just a month, and that number was 13.5 percent. The outlook in Austin is definitely brighter than what's happening nationwide: nationwide listings were up 17.3 percent on March 1 and down a significant 27.1 percent by April 5.

Elsewhere in Texas, Houston has seen a 1.9 percent increase in new listings from March to April of this year, but listings are down 8.7 percent from April 2019.

Dallas-Fort Worth's numbers are bleaker, with new listings down 18 percent in the past month, for a year-over-year decrease of 17.2 percent.

San Antonio is an outlier, remaining neutral at zero percent change in new listings from March 1-April 5, 2020, and only down 11.8 percent from April 2019.

The greatest slowdowns in new listings since March 1 were seen in Detroit (down 61.8 percent), Pittsburgh (down 55.5 percent), and New York City (down 49.1 percent). But new listings were actually up or flat in 12 of the 35 largest U.S. metros, led by Phoenix (up 18.3 percent), Atlanta (up 15.6 percent), Sacramento (up 13.7 percent), and Minneapolis-St. Paul (up 13.7 percent).