Real Estate Rumblings

Austin home sales hint at recovery but prices still hover above $400,000

Austin home sales hint at recovery but prices still hover above $400K

Downtown Austin
Austin's real estate market has been a roller coaster ride during 2020. Courtesy photo

After months of slipping home sales and soaring prices, Austin's residential real estate market appears to be rebounding. In its most recent monthly report, Austin Board of Realtors said June's near-double-digit increase in home sales helped boost numbers for the first half of 2020.

Looking at numbers for all five counties — Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop, and Caldwell — ABOR says residential home sales increased 9.3 percent over June 2019 to 3,969 sales. Despite this early summer boost, overall home sales in the Austin-Round Rock area declined 5.2 percent in the first six months of the year, largely due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

City of Austin
Prices, however, did not decline. In the city of Austin, home sales in the first six months of 2020 fell 13.6 percent over last year, while the median price rose 9.7 percent to $406,000. As new listings in Austin dropped by 9.7 percent and active listings fell more than 20 percent, so too did sales. The city ended the first half of the year down 6.2 percent in sales volume, despite the rapid increase in prices.

“Extremely low inventory is one of the factors that affects overall sales dollar volume while simultaneously creating a very competitive and tight market," said James Gaines, chief economist for the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. "Home builders aren’t building quite as many new homes and sellers were hesitant to list their home during shelter in place orders. Even if we end up with a 3 to 4 percent decline in sales in 2020, that would still be a strong year for the region.”

Despite the roller coaster first half of 2020, says Gaines, June's increase in sales should be considered a positive sign. 

“There are plenty of unknowns in the months ahead, but June home sales across the MSA being up 9.3 percent year over year was tremendous when considering the strength of 2019," Gaines said, adding, "we are still on track for a strong year.”

Travis County and beyond
Mimicking regional trends, Travis County's median home price rose 7 percent to $385,000, but the number of sales fell 10.3 percent in the first half of 2020, and continued slipping, albeit only 0.5 percent, in the month of June. Median home prices in Williamson County, meanwhile, increased 2.8 percent to $291,920. That county's home sales also dropped (3.6 percent) during the first half of the year.

Based on numbers, it appears buyers had better luck the farther away they went from the city center. Despite the pandemic, home sales in Hays County ballooned 12.2 percent year over year, jumping 38.6 percent in the month of June. The median price in Hays now sits at $287,265, an increase of 6.6 percent.

Home sales in Caldwell and Bastrop counties also rose in the first half of 2020, climbing 5 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively.