Continuing its six-year bull run, Central Texas’ housing market kicked off 2017 with gains in both the number of home sales and the median sales price, the Austin Board of Realtors said Thursday.
The board said January saw 1,549 pre-owned and newly built houses change hands in the overall Austin metro area, 7 percent more than in January 2016. The median price of homes sold last month was $279,990, a 9.8 increase over the prior January, the board said.
Within the city of Austin, there were 469 home sales, up 9.8 percent year-over-year. The median price was $312,000, up 2.3 percent, the board said.
Housing inventory levels remained flat across the Austin-Round Rock metro in January 2017, the board said. The supply of available homes in Williamson County and other markets is now on par with inventory levels in Austin, the board noted. The inventory of single-family homes priced under $250,000 is now less than one month in many areas across Central Texas, the board said.
“Single-family homes priced for entry-level homebuyers are increasingly harder to find throughout the region,” said Brandy Guthrie, president of the Austin Board of Realtors
In its latest apartment market report released this week, Marcus & Millichap said home prices increased at a record pace for the past four years in the Austin area, outpacing both rent and income growth.
“Renting has become the more affordable option, particularly in urban areas of the metro,” the report said. “The ability of many to purchase their first home in the market will be low as prices in desired neighborhoods climb out of reach. The tightening of the housing market will have many of these new households favoring apartments over homeownership in the coming months.”
Last month, the board reported that sales and prices in Central Texas reached record annual highs for 2016, for the sixth year in a row. Housing market experts are forecasting a strong market for 2017, though perhaps not as robust as last year.
Austin real estate broker Brad Pauly said the year is off to a strong start.
“The last quarter of 2016 was a little slower after a fast pace through most of the year,” said Pauly, owner of Pauly Presley Realty. “However, after about a week into 2017, things took off again. Continuing with the same trend from the last few years, if a property hits the market priced right, it’s usually pending within days.”
Aaron Nann, a real estate advisor with Realty Austin, said over the past six to 12 months he has seen many more local buyers who purchased a home five to seven years ago return to the market.
“By now many have good equity from their purchase, their salaries may be higher and the feeling of future interest rates possibly rising is motivation to move up,” Nann said. “This combined with population growth has brought a shortage of homes under $500,000.”
Andrew Vallejo, a local real estate agent, said some of his buyers are altering their searches, either looking a little farther outside of central Austin into areas like Cedar Park, or adjusting their price points to allow for a greater variety of options.
“One of my recent homebuying customers raised his price point by $100,000, and we immediately found the perfect home,” said Vallejo, with Redfin, a national real estate brokerage. “Eventually going toward the higher end of your price spectrum can make all the difference in the homes you have to choose from.”
“At the same time, the homes that aren’t selling quickly are sitting on the market for longer than we’ve seen since January 2015,” according to Redfin data, Vallejo said. “With Austin home prices rising so rapidly over the last few years, some sellers got a little too excited and overpriced their homes last year. You can still get top dollar for a home in Austin, but it needs to have a lot going for it — charm, location, amenities, walkability, those sorts of things. Otherwise, buyers won’t be interested.”