Central Texas home sales slowed their growth rate in the first half of 2017, but home prices continued to rise at a steady clip, the Austin Board of Realtors said Thursday.
Through the end of June, single-family sales in the five-county Austin metro area — stretching from Georgetown to San Marcos — rose 2.8 percent over the same period in 2016, totalling 14,958 sales. The median price of those sales was $300,000, a 6.4 percent increase year-over-year, according to the board.
“The Central Texas housing market continued to show signs of normalization in the first half of the year, with positive but more moderate gains in sales activity,” Brandy Guthrie, president of the Austin Board of Realtors, said in releasing the board’s mid-year housing report. “Homes are spending more time on the market and housing inventory levels have slowly increased throughout the year. While it could take years for the region’s housing market to achieve balance between homebuying and selling activity, these trends indicate that the Central Texas housing market could finally be moving in that direction.”
With the number of homes growing, “buyers have a little more choice and are a little bit pickier, and that’s a good thing,” said Pam Cirkiel, broker and owner of M.E. “Gene” Johnson Realtors in Austin.
The board also released monthly statistics for June, which registered 3,415 sales, up 4.4 percent compared to June 2016. Last month’s median price ticked up 6.6 percent year-over-year, with half of the homes selling for more than $314,000 and half for less.
Guthrie said rising home prices are pushing more and more Austin residents into surrounding areas to find an affordable home.
Cirkiel noted that homes priced at $240,000 and below “are selling like hotcakes.”
“It’s a price point a lot of families can afford with the low (mortgage interest) rates,” Cirkiel said.
Gay Puckett, a broker associate with JB Goodwin Realtors, said the entry-level market is very competitive, with first-time buyers often facing multiple-offer situations.
“Many of those multiple offers are coming from all-cash investors who know there is a need for rental housing for our tsunami of newcomers moving to Austin,” Puckett said. “This makes it very difficult for a first-time buyer to write an appealing offer if it requires financing.”
Janet Nassar, an agent with Keller Williams Realty, said homes that could be potential flips or remodels for investors are hard to come by.
“Those go faster than anything,” Nassar said.
In the luxury market, homes are sitting on the market longer and some sellers are making price adjustments, but the homes remain “very attractively priced for the viewpoint of transferees from the West and East coast,” Puckett said.
Cirkiel said homes priced in the $600,000 range are still desirable, though sales in that range seem to have slowed a bit.
“What used to take less than a week might take up to 30 days,” Cirkiel said.
In its report, the board also included sales and median prices for the following areas:
City of Austin
Single-family home sales within the city of Austin increased 4.3 percent to 4,680 sales in the first half of this year.
The median price increased 7.7 percent — to $365,000 — through June, while active listings increased 8.7 percent to 1,435 listings during the same period.
“So far in 2017, home price appreciation throughout Central Texas has ranged between 5 and 8 percent,” Guthrie said. “While this is less than the double-digit home price increases experienced over the last few years, the impact on housing affordability for the typical Central Texas homebuyer is still significant. In the city of Austin, for example, the median price for single-family homes in the first half of 2017 was more than $26,000 higher than in the same time period in 2016.”
In June 2017, Austin home sales edged up 2.1 percent to 1,015 home sales, while median price jumped 13.2 percent over June 2016, to $393,500.
Sales were flat in June, declining 0.1 percent year-over-year to 1,167 sales. The median price rose 5.9 percent, to $286,000.
In the first half of the year, sales were up 1.2 percent to 5,067 home sales, while median price rose 6.2 percent, to $276,000. More homes were sold in Williamson County in the first half of the year than in the city of Austin – despite having less than half of Austin’s population, the board said.
“Williamson County’s housing market growth continues to be stifled by incredibly strong demand coupled with low housing inventory levels,” Guthrie said. “While Williamson County’s housing inventory is slowly recuperating from the critical levels reached in 2016, the county’s housing inventory remains among the lowest in the region.”
In the first half of the year, sales rose 7.3 percent year-over-year to 1,799 sales, while median price increased 5.7 percent year-over-year, to $256,509.
In June, sales jumped 14.5 percent year-over-year , while median price increased 6.7 percent, to $266,250.