Home values rise 9 percent in Travis County

Home values in Travis County rose by an average of 9 percent for 2016, as the region’s job and population growth continues to drive strong demand for housing, the Travis Central Appraisal District said Monday.

The average market value for homes with a homestead exemption rose to $387,537 from $355,312 last year, Marya Crigler, chief appraiser for the Travis Central Appraisal District, said in releasing the preliminary figures.

The average taxable home value — the market value minus exemptions — rose 8.7 percent, to $285,335 from $262,462 last year, Crigler said.

Last year, the average residential market value rose 11 percent over 2014, and the average taxable home value was up about 9 percent.

This year, overall preliminary taxable values in Travis County increased 20 percent from 2015 levels. The total value for the combined residential and commercial roll rose to $164 billion from $137 billion, led by increases in commercial values, Crigler said.

How this year’s appraisals will affect Travis County homeowners’ tax bills remains to be seen. City, county, school districts and other local taxing entities will use the appraisal district’s values to set 2016 property tax rates and the amount of taxes property owners will pay.

The appraisal district will mail about 417,717 appraisal notices this week.

“The Austin region continues to thrive as it enters its seventh year of positive trends in its real estate and overall economy,” Crigler said in a statement.

The Texas Workforce Commission reported that the Austin metro area added 44,500 jobs in the 12 months that ended in March, a 4.7 percent increase. That job growth contributed to an influx of newcomers, as the region’s population surpassed 2 million this year.

“This steady job and population growth remains the primary reason behind the strong demand for housing,” Crigler said. “The supply of housing continues to lag behind strong demand.”

Eldon Rude, a local housing market analyst, said demand has been outpacing supply for what has now been the longest prolonged period since the 1980s.

“When there’s so little supply relative to demand, prices are going to go up,” said Rude, principal of 360 Real Estate Analytics, a consulting firm.

For three straight years, housing supply has remained well below the level experts consider to be a market with supply and demand in balance, Crigler said.

A short supply of homes in Central Austin neighborhoods “is causing a frenzy of bidding wars with five to nine offers common for some listings,” Crigler said.

Last year, for the fifth straight year, the Central Texas housing market set a record for home sales, the Austin Board of Realtors said in January. Sales increased almost 5 percent over 2014’s volume, and the median price for single-family homes was up nearly 9 percent to $263,900, setting a new high for the fourth year in a row.

Rude said the Travis appraisal district is using “actual data from the market” in setting 2016 home values.

“What they’re seeing in the marketplace is exactly what our research is showing, which is increasing pricing because you have more demand than supply. It sounds like a broken record, but it’s real.”

Charles Heimsath, a local real estate expert, said in an email, “It is no surprise that values are increasing again.

“Demand continues unabated, driven by strong job growth and a continual stream of young migrants from other cities. New homebuilding, particularly at the lower end of the market, is not keeping up with the demand and people are driving further to find housing that they can afford.”

An emerging trend, he said, is the lack of available inventory “due to sellers not selling because they cannot find replacement housing — either an affordable move-up or a suitable move-down.”

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