Continuing on their upswing, Central Texas home sales jumped 32 percent last month, the highest level for an April in nine years, the latest figures show.
The area’s median home price rose 8 percent from April 2012, with half the homes selling for more than $227,250 and half for less, the Austin Board of Realtors said in its monthly report.
The board said 2,563 single-family homes were sold in April, compared with 1,937 last April, making it the 23rd month in a row of year-over-year sales increases.
A short supply of homes and robust demand due in part to the region’s job and population growth are making for a hot market in which multiple offers are common, local real estate agents say. Low mortgage interest rates, escalating rents and rising home prices also are helping drive sales.
“It’s a very fast-paced market,” said Mike Easter, an agent with JB Goodwin Realtors.
Homes in the Austin-area homes sold in an average of 50 days in April, compared with 69 days in April 2012.
According to national real estate brokerage Redfin, 46.6 percent of new listings in Austin are under contract within two weeks of hitting the market.
The number of homes on the market was down 25 percent, with 5,488 active listings. Pending sales were up 20 percent, with 2,976 sales in the pipeline to close.
New listings were up 10 percent, a welcome sign, said Cathy Coneway, chair of the Austin Board of Realtors.
“As Austin-area home sales continue to increase and the time homes spend on the market continues to shorten, it is integral that our housing supply also increases to meet this surging demand,” she said.
“No doubt Austin’s housing market is hot,” Ed Friedman, a director in Moody’s Analytics office in West Chester, Penn. said by email. “CoreLogic house price data show that prices have fully recovered to their 2007 peak — not many metro areas can boast that.”
Friedman said the Austin market is different now that it was during the housing boom of 2005-2007.
“Back then, the driver was fancy financing (remember subprime lending?) that brought a lot of speculative buying into market,” he said.”This time heavy-duty… financial regulation will prevent anything from getting out of hand. In fact, it’s still not so easy to get a mortgage.”
In addition, after five years of builders having sharply pulled back on new-home production, “this time the demand flows from solid fundamentals such as strong income gains and rapid population growth related to in-migration of young professionals.”
Local real estate agents have no shortage of examples to attest to that.
“I think the sellers deserve their time in the market,” but it is challenging for many buyers who are having to act quickly and compete in multiple-offer situations, said Sam Carroll, a broker with Capital Downtown Realtors.
“Buyers are shell-shocked,” Carroll said. “I’m dealing with people who can pay another $25,000 or $50,000 (for a home purchase), and they’re still not able to get it.”
Easter said he thinks the market will return to a more balanced state over the next two to three years as housing supply catches up to demand, and interest rates eventually tick up. Carroll agreed: “When they start to raise interest rates, you’ll see some pullback.”