Austin-area home sales climb 10% in September

After a two-month decline, Austin-area home sales rebounded last month, rising 10.3 percent compared to September of last year, the Austin Board of Realtors said Tuesday.

Both the median sales price — $240,000 — and average sales price — $308,514 — rose to their highest levels ever for a September, the board said.

“Austin should end the year as the best sales year ever and median home prices should end as a record high,” said Jim Gaines, a research economist at the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.

While housing demand remains strong in the region, there’s a downside for some home shoppers. The record prices mean Austin-area homes are becoming more difficult for some folks to afford, board officials said.

“Local experts continue to point to our region’s strong economic and population growth as foundations of a healthy market, debunking recent reports of an overvalued market, but the real issue Austin is facing is whether the large amount of people moving to Austin every day can afford to buy a home here,” said Bill Evans, president of the Austin Board of Realtors.

The board said buyers closed on 2,524 home sales in September. The median price was up 7.6 percent, with half the homes selling for more than $240,000 and half for less.

Prices are rising amid continued demand for housing, but a limited supply of both newly built and pre-owned homes, experts say.

A number of factors could help explain September’s sales uptick. Here are the views of several Austin-area agents and housing market experts:

Eldon Rude, a local housing industry consultant: “While logic might tell you that area home sales should slow given the strong prices increases we have seen over the last several years, the data continues to show that buyers in this market will pay more for the home they want in the location they desire,” said Rude, principal of 360 Real Estate Analytics in Austin.

“September employment information from the Texas Workforce Commission indicates there were 31,400 new jobs created in the Austin metro in the last year, and with an unemployment rate of 4.2 percent, that translates into continued in-migration into our area. All of these new residents have to live somewhere, and certainly some percentage of them are purchasing a home which ends up in these statistics.”

Cederick Harris, a local real estate agent.”I think the big scare went away. There are buyers out there who still want to buy and…it’s finally dawned on them, it is what it is, we still want to purchase something. Prices are going to continue to go up regardless.”

Yvette Evans, a real estate agent with Redfin in Austin: “I had a lot of buyers who didn’t want to get into multiple-offer situations and they had stopped looking (during the sizzling spring and summer buying season) and now they’re looking again. There doesn’t seem to be the sense there’s not going to be enough inventory, which fueled the spring and summer buying frenzy. Now I think that people are realizing there are going to be more homes that come on the market and they’re not willing to overpay for them and they’re willing to wait.”

Brian Talley, a real estate broker who owns Austin-based Regent Property Group LLC: “This is a seasonally slower time of the year so buyer activity has slowed. That has meant less multiple offer situations, which has resulted in lower buyer urgency. There is pent-up demand for buyers that didn’t want to participate in the sales frenzy this summer. Now there are more good options available for them to buy with the added benefit of low interest rates.”

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