Real Estate Rumblings
Austin home sales slip as affordability becomes increasing concern
The Austin Board of Realtors has released its March 2019 Central Texas Housing Market Report, and once again the main issue is affordability. After a 6 percent increase in single-family home sales in February — an encouraging start to the spring selling season — sales took a dive in March.
Overall, home sales dipped 4.6 percent in the City of Austin and 4.4 percent in Travis County, caused, says ABOR, by a lack of affordable options.
"Because Austin’s economy is thriving and the city continues to remain one of the most popular living destinations in the country, the housing market remains extremely tight," Kevin P. Scanlan, 2019 ABOR president, said in a release. “In March, new listings, active listings and pending sales all declined, but the median price increased."
As Scalan pointed out, sales were down, but median home prices continued rising to $375,000 within the city limits (a 2.8 percent increase year-over-year) and $355,000 in Travis County (a 1.4 percent gain).
ABOR also pointed to the number of months a property remains on the market as an indicator of the market's "tightness." As the new report outlines, a "balanced" housing market should have between 6 and 6.5 months of housing inventory. In Austin, housing inventory hovers around 1.5 months.
"We need a solution to the ongoing affordability and inventory crisis, " Scanlan cautioned, "which is why a more a more flexible land development code that allows for more housing at affordable price points is imperative.”
In the greater Austin-Round Rock metro area, the numbers are a little more encouraging. The metro median home price increased just 0.8 percent from March 2018, to $305,00 while housing inventory took a slight uptick to 2.4 months.
Also the the rise in the Austin-Round Rock area are active listings, which increased 8.4 percent to 6,060 listings last month. Pending sales also increased to 18.4 percent to 3,378.