Every 30 days, the Austin Board of Realtors releases its monthly report filled with facts and figures, and every month it seems that Austin's housing market shatters yet another record. Such is the case in ABOR's October report, released November 21.
Last month, sales of single-family homes in the Capital City saw double-digit growth, leading to yet another cry from real estate experts for more affordable housing options. Austin's October home sales hit 14.5 percent growth over last year, a surprising climb considering inventory is at an all-time low. The number of listings — i.e., the new houses coming onto the market — decreased by 5 percent to 840, while the number of homes sold increased 8.4 percent to 745 pending sales.
Using the basic tenets of supply and demand, this results in, you guessed it, higher home prices. October's median home price rose 8.9 percent to $405,000 — the highest median price for any October on record, ABOR notes in its report.
This is, however, a decrease from September's median price of $406,000 and slightly less than Austin's all-time high of $410,000 in July 2019. This downward trend is likely due to the end of the summer selling season rather than being indicative of an overall cooling off of the market.
The overall numbers are worrisome enough for ABOR to use the report to call out Austin's land development code and growth plans, both of which they say need to be updated. As ABOR points out, since the city's 30-year growth plan, Imagine Austin, was adopted in 2012, "the median price of a detached single-family home in the city’s urban core increased 67 percent — from $301,900 to $505,000."
"Austin can no longer sustain its current rate of growth. With an average of 100 people moving here every day, the demand for housing is growing much faster than the number of homes available," Kevin P. Scanlan, 2019 ABOR president, said in the report. "Homes are hardest to find in the urban core where people can live closer to work and transit. Therefore, we need to plan more efficiently — not just in Austin's urban core but in transit corridors and activity centers as well."
And this growth isn't just restricted to the city limits. In the Austin-Round Rock metro area, single-family home sales in October rose 16.8 percent from last year while the median price rose 7.4 percent to $327,500.
Single-family home sales in Travis County jumped a whopping 20.8 percent year over year, while prices rose 9.1 percent to $385,000. Likewise, Williamson County saw a 14.3 percent climb in sales and a 4.2 percent price climb to $295,000. Hays, Bastrop, and Caldwell counties also reflected these trends.
“If you restrict density and resist growth, especially in a rapidly growing community like Austin, you’re going to drive home prices up. That means everyone below a certain income level won’t be able to afford to live in the community,” said Jon M. Roberts, principal at TIP Strategies, Inc. “The more a community advocates for no-growth and restricting density, the more exclusive that community is going to become.”