Real Estate Rumblings
Austin-area home sales on track for record-breaking year despite reports of slowdown
On December 17, the Austin Board of Realtors released their monthly report, and once again, Austin home prices have hit another historic high, homebuyers are struggling to afford the urban core, and ABOR is lobbying for a change in land code.
With November's numbers tallied, it appears that Central Texas will likely shatter the total number of homes sold in a year. Last month, home sales rose 4.5 percent to 670 sales, bringing the year's total number to 30,561, about 300 shy of 2018's total sales volume. Considering the trend, it's a fairly safe bet that the Austin area will surpass 300 homes in December.
Also on trend is November's median home price for a single-family home, a number that rose 10.6 percent last month to $405,000 inside the city of Austin — the highest for any November on record.
Slightly more encouraging were the numbers for the overall Austin-Round Rock metro area. The metro's median price rose 1.7 percent to $305,000, while Travis County held relatively steady, rising .6 percent to year-over-year to $355,000.
“This time last year, we expected the housing market would slow, but that’s not been the case. We’re seeing very strong numbers for new homes across the board,” Vaike O’Grady, Austin regional director for Metrostudy, said in a release.
“Because Austin is severely constrained, home builders are moving outward in search of lower land costs and development opportunity," she continued. "The surrounding counties are going to continue to emerge with the current demand.” (Though it's unclear exactly what reports she is referring to, in it's annual national housing forecast, released December 4, Realtor.com predicted the median price in Austin will dip 0.2 percent dip in 2020.)
And surrounding counties are meeting the demand. In November, Williamson County single-family home sales increased 13.2 percent to 927, but the median price surprisingly remained stagnant, even slightly decreasing 0.4 percent to $278,000. Buyers shouldn't expect that trend to last long, however. Prices dipped, but so did the number of single-family homes on the market, which decreased 14.7 percent.
Hays County saw a similar increase in sales, but unlike Williamson, the county's median home price rose 3.6 percent to $260,000. Hays' new listings also jumped 17.8 percent year-over-year.
The trend rippled through Bastrop and Caldwell counties, too. In November, Bastrop's single-family home sales increased 22.8 percent while the median price also rose, climbing 6.6 percent to $245,015. Caldwell saw similar changes, with sales climbing a whopping 53.9 percent and a median price of $185,000, a 4.5 percent climb over 2018.
Like it has for most of its monthly reports, ABOR called upon city leaders to diversify land development codes, an increasingly contentious issue inside Austin.
"Because the demand in Austin continues to outpace the supply, the market is experiencing increased urban sprawl," Kevin P. Scanlan, ABOR's 2019 president, said. “Limited and pricey housing within the urban core is driving residents to relocate to the suburbs. Until we adopt a refreshed land development code that focuses on diverse housing options for all income levels within the city, homebuyers will continue to flood surrounding towns.”