Central Texas home sales decline in September


Highlights

The median price in the Austin-Round Rock metro area rose 5.3 percent to $291,464.

Sales declined 4.1 percent in the city of Austin; the median rose to $355,000, up 4 percent.

Single-family home sales declined across most areas of Central Texas in September, while the median price in the region rose more than 5 percent, to $291,464, the latest figures show.

In its monthly report, the Austin Board of Realtors said there were 2,433 home sales in the Austin-Round Rock metro area last month, down 4.3 percent from September 2016. Half of the homes sold for more than $291,464 and half for less, for a 5.3 percent increase in the median price over the prior September.

“Despite last month’s dip in home sales activity, it’s important to remember that we’re comparing our current figures to the record-breaking housing market activity in 2016 and it’s not necessarily indicative of a downturn,” Brandy Guthrie, president of the Austin Board of Realtors, said in a written statement.

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Home sales declined in most Central Texas counties last month, with the exception of Williamson County, where volume was up 1 percent year over year. Home sales declined 8.6 percent in Travis County, 0.3 percent in Hays County and 4.1 percent in the city of Austin.

Home prices in the region continued to rise at a steady pace in September. Within Austin’s city limits, the median price rose 4 percent, with half the homes in September selling for $355,000 or more and half for less, the board said.

Although the region’s housing supply is increasing, it is still below the level considered to be a market where supply and demand are in balance, and thus remains a seller’s market, experts say.

“Austin has had one of the fastest job growth rates in the country over the past decade and consequently one of the strongest housing markets with rising sales,” Lawrence Yun, chief economist and senior vice president of research for the National Association of Realtors, said in a written statement. “But steady depletion of housing inventory is resulting in a fast rise in home prices and affordability challenges. The construction of single-family homes as well as condominiums needs to ramp up higher in order to fully satisfy housing demand and maintain housing affordability. Otherwise, job growth could stall and bring less dynamism to the local economy.”

Looking ahead to 2018, Yun said, “slightly higher mortgage rates will further pressure affordability and therefore attest to even greater need for new home construction to tame home price pressure. Home sales, based on recent past job creation, should continue to modestly increase in 2018. But home sales in 2019 will depend critically on inventory availability.”



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