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Austin-area home sales, median price climb in April


Highlights

Region’s median price hits second-highest level — $305,000.

City of Austin home sales see 2.2% gain ; median rises 4.1% to $370,600.

Central Texas home sales rose just over 3 percent in April and the median price of those sales hit $305,000 — the second-highest level ever, the Austin Board of Realtors said Tuesday.

The median also set a record for an April.

To date, the all-time high for the median home-sales price was set in August 2016, when it reached $363,190, the board said.

“After a slow beginning to the year, increases in single-family home sales, homes on the market and housing inventory across the region in April indicate that the Central Texas housing market is ramping up for a strong summer selling season,” Brandy Guthrie, president of the Austin Board of Realtors, said in a written statement.

The region’s job and population growth continue to fuel strong demand for housing, but low inventory has been pushing prices higher for some time, experts say.

The board reported 2,640 home sales in April for the Austin metro stretching from Georgetown to San Marcos. That’s a 3.2 percent increase over April 2016, the board said.

In the city of Austin, there were 827 home sales, up 2.2 percent over April 2016, the board said. Austin’s median price increased 4.1 percent to $370,600.

At the county level, home sales were up 8.6 percent year-over-year in Williamson County and 3.3 percent in Hays County. Travis County, however, saw a 2.1 percent decline.

Single-family home prices remain most affordable in Hays and Williamson counties, but that’s also where home prices are rising the fastest, the board said.

In April, the median sales price in Hays County increased 7.1 percent to $267,500, while the median rose 7 percent in Williamson County to $275,000.

Both active listings and monthly housing inventory saw significant gains in Central Texas in April, which could indicate strong home sales activity in the summer months to come, the board said.

John Kovas, a broker with Kovas & Associates Realtors, said Austin “is the envy of the country.”

“There’s no other way to say it,” Kovas said. “We’ve all been spoiled. If I put a house on the market Friday and it’s not under contract by Monday at 5 p.m., I’m asking, ‘Am I doing something wrong?’ That’s how fast they’re moving. It’s an uber-hot market.”

One exception, however, is in the high-end category, Kovas said.

“The malaise that began descending over the luxury market, $1 million and over, in February 2016 has drifted downward, first to $750,000 and above, and now to $530,000 and above. There are very few loans being made in the $530,000 to $750,000 price range. It has gone quiet.”

In Central Austin, real estate agent Brandi Wyman said she is preparing her buyer clients “to be ready for multiple offers and competition” as the market ramps up into prime selling season.

“Compromises have to be made in a market as competitive as this one and folks need to remember to not let perfection be the enemy of the good,” said Wyman, with Turner Residential in Austin.

Tim Heyl, CEO of the Heyl Group at Keller Williams Realty in Austin, said more than half of the firm’s transactions this spring have involved multiple offers.

“Lower inventory, particularly in desirable neighborhoods, is creating a competition frenzy and short days on market,” Heyl said.

Across Central Texas, single-family sales growth is being driven in part by a surge in new home construction, particularly in Williamson County, the board said. Metrostudy, which tracks the housing market, said that in the 12 months through March new home starts rose nearly 15 percent over the prior 12-month period.

On Monday, several benchmark mortgage interest rates moved higher, but Kovas said he doesn’t foresee much impact on the market.

And Tim Beyers, a mortgage analyst for American Financing, a national mortgage banking firm, said: “In general, dropping rates are good news for buyers, but if you already locked in a rate you’re happy with — and most importantly, a price you’re happy with for the property you’re buying — this week’s minor moves shouldn’t spur you to change anything.”

Across the U.S., the strongest quarterly home sales pace in exactly a decade put significant downward pressure on inventory levels and caused price growth to further accelerate during the first three months of 2017, the National Association of Realtors said in its latest quarterly report Monday.

Metro home prices have now accelerated for three consecutive quarters, the association said.

The national median existing single-family home price in the first quarter was $232,100, up 6.9 percent from the first quarter of 2016 ($217,200) and the fastest growth since the second quarter of 2015 (8.2 percent). The median price during the fourth quarter of 2016 increased 5.9 percent from the fourth quarter of 2015.

The five most expensive housing markets in the first quarter were the San Jose, Calif. metro, where the median was $1,070,000; San Francisco, $815,000; Anaheim-Santa Ana, Calif., $750,000; Honolulu, $746,000; and San Diego, $564,000.

The five lowest-cost metro areas in the first quarter were Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio, $79,200; Cumberland, Md., $81,800; Decatur, Ill., $86,100; Elmira, N.Y., $90,000; and Binghamton, N.Y., $91,200.



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