Real Estate Rumblings

Austin homeownership rates go through the roof during pandemic

Austin homeownership rates go through the roof during pandemic

Female homeowner
Austin's homeownership rates are soaring. Westend61/Getty Images

Buoyed by historically low mortgage rates and robust home sales activity, Austin has blown the roof off its homeownership rate.

In the third quarter of this year, the homeownership rate in the Austin metro area skyrocketed to 74.7 percent, according to a report released November 17 by the Texas A&M University Real Estate Center. That’s the highest rate since U.S. Census Bureau data about homeownership in the Austin area first became available in 1996.

For the second quarter of this year, Austin’s homeownership rate stood at 65.8 percent, almost 9 percentage points below its level just one quarter later, according to the A&M Real Estate Center. In the third quarter of 2019, it was 60.3 percent.

The Real Estate Center notes that Austin’s homeownership rate is the highest among the state's four major metro areas for the first time in 12 years.

In September, home sales in the Austin area jumped 31.5 percent compared with the same period in 2019, according to the Austin Board of Realtors. “Austin’s economy is bouncing back better than most cities, allowing more people to make a move to a home that meets their needs,” Vaike O’Grady, Austin regional director for housing data provider Zonda, said in a Board of Realtors release issued in October.

Jim Gaines, the TAMU Real Estate Center’s chief economist, warns that homeownership rates in Austin and elsewhere in Texas could slide next year as pandemic-era protections against home foreclosures expire.

For the time being, though, Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth are basking in record-high homeownership rates.

In DFW, the homeownership rate reached a record-high 69 percent in the third quarter of this year, according to the Real Estate Center’s report. That compares with 64.9 percent in the second quarter of this year and 61.5 percent in the third quarter of 2019. Federal homeownership data for DFW dates back to 2005.

Meanwhile, the homeownership rate in the San Antonio area barely budged. The report shows the rate went from 66 percent in the second quarter of this year to 66.3 percent in the third quarter. That compares with 61.1 percent in the third quarter of last year and the record high of 76 percent in the fourth quarter of 2004. San Antonio’s data goes back to 1996.

Houston, which has been battered by the pandemic recession and a downturn in the oil industry, saw the regional homeownership rate drop from the second quarter of this year (67.9 percent, a record high) to the third quarter (65.5 percent), the report says. In the third quarter of last year, the rate sat at 61.9 percent. Houston’s data dates back to 2005.