Austin housing market cools a bit, but still on record pace

The Austin area housing market is cooling a bit, some local real estate agents say. But the region is still on track to set another record for sales this year, the Austin Board of Realtors said Tuesday.

Homes sales and prices were both up in Central Texas last month compared to the prior September, the Austin Board of Realtors said.

The board said 2,576 single-family homes changed hands in September, 1.3 percent more than in September 2015. The median sales price was $275,250, up 7.5 percent year-over-year.

Year-to-date through September, the Austin area logged 22,839 sales, a 3.5 percent increase over the same nine months last year, the board said.

Last year closed with 29,068 singe-family home sales, the fifth year in a row of record sales.

“Typically we see a slowdown during this time of year with people going back to school and fall kicking into gear, but prices have been so strong in Austin since last spring that people are still putting their homes on the market, and prices are still on an upswing,” said Lauren Johnson, an agent with Redfin in Austin. “Our Redfin agents in Austin are still quite busy and seeing a lot of offer activity. In fact, the last five offers I wrote were all multiple-offer situations.”

Several real estate agents, however, said conditions are cooling, with some buyers reducing prices.

“We’re still seeing some multiple offers, but it’s definitely become a little softer than last year,” said Natasha Baker, an agent with Keller Williams Realty.

Baker said two factors are at play: “You’re seeing buyer fatigue and sellers getting overzealous on pricing. (Some sellers) think the market is so hot that they can do whatever they want, and I think buyers are getting tired. If a multiple-offer situation is going on, I’ve seen where some buyers don’t want to deal with it and don’t even put in an offer.

Shannon Schmitz,an agent with Keller Williams Austin Portfolio Real Estate, also is seeing some owners with “unrealistic expectations.”

“Some sellers are still believing our market is red hot, and that’s not the way our market is right now,” Schmitz said. Some agents are advertising properties — including a house in the luxury Barton Creek area — with “motivated sellers.”

“We haven’t seen ‘seller -motivated’ in three or four years, so we’re definitely seeing a shift in our market,” Schmitz said. “There’s a lot of inventory.”

But Schmitz said market conditions vary by area. “If it’s central and under $800,000, it’s not slowing down. If you’re out toward Lakeway, though, absolutely (it is),” Schmitz said.

Within Austin’s city limits, home sales fell 4.5 percent last month, while the median sales price jumped 10.6 percent, to $345,000.

Isabel Affinito, a real estate agent with JB Goodwin in Austin, said that although the number of listings and the average time houses spend on the market have increased slightly, homes still are selling quickly and, on average, at close to the asking price.

“It’s a cool down from white hot to red hot… I don’t think the sky is falling,” Affinito said.

Henry Valles, an agent with Realty Austin, said some of the market cooling could be due to seasonal factors, as well as buyer fatigue and uncertainty about the next president’s impact on the economy.

Johnson, the Redfin agent, said the election isn’t a factor for most of her buyers, but “I have had quite a few people ask me if they should buy now while interest rates are low, since we don’t know what will happen after the election. But real estate is local, so my advice to clients is to ask themselves if now is the right time for them personally, and not worry too much about how national politics might or might not affect the market.”

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