Central Texas home sales and home prices hit a record high in 2016, the Austin Board of Realtors said Wednesday.
It was the sixth straight year of record sales and prices in the Austin metro area. Economists are forecasting a strong housing market for 2017, though perhaps not as robust as 2016.
Austin-area buyers purchased 29,569 single-family homes last year, the board said, a 3.9 percent increase over 2015. Half of the homes last year sold for $284,000 and half for less, a 7.2 percent rise in the median home-sale price, the board said.
The dollar volume of sales topped $10 billion for the first time in the region’s history, the board said.
In the final month of the year there were 2,373 sales, the board said, a 1.9 percent increase compared with December 2015. The median price for December was $290,000, a 6.9 percent increase over December 2015’s median price.
For several years, the supply of houses, both new and pre-owned, has lagged behind strong demand fueled by the region’s job and population growth, leading to sharp price increases.
However, the board said that slowing home price growth and more time on the market for listings suggests that the market could be beginning to return to more normal conditions.
“The Central Texas housing market is slowly beginning to align with long-term historical trends,” said Brandy Guthrie, president of the Austin Board of Realtors. “Homes are spending more time on the market and the pace of both home sales and price growth is slowing. This normalization does not necessarily mean a weakening housing market, but a return to less aggressive market conditions.”
Mark Sprague, a local housing market expert with Independence Title in Austin, said this year’s market “will likely outpace last year’s levels, but at a less robust margin.”
Within Austin’s city limits, sales were up 1.7 percent last year over 2015, and prices rose at a more moderate pace than in prior years, with the median price increasing 5.8 percent, to $340,000, the board said.
The board also said:
*In Travis County, sales were up 3.3 percent last year over 2015, and the median price climbed 6.5 percent, to $330,000.
*Williamson County saw a 2.5 percent increase in sales and the median price was $260,000, a 6.2 increase over 2015.
*Sales in Hays County were up 7.3 percent last year over 2015, while the median price rose 5.2 percent, to $243,000.
For the region as a whole, experts say they’ll be keeping an eye on job growth and mortgage rates.
“Any impact on the housing market from rising mortgage interest rates will be tied to both how much they go up and how fast,” Eldon Rude, a Central Texas housing market consultant, said in a recent interview. “The most recent increases might have resulted in some prospective home buyers accelerating their purchases to avoid potentially higher rates in 2017.”
Wes Womack, who leads the Womack Real Estate Team with JB Goodwin, said 2017 is off to a strong start for his agents.
“For us personally, this January has been the busiest yet,” Womack said. “We have actually already experienced multiple offers on almost all of our listings. I foresee prices ticking up as they tend to have done the last few years in a row.”