Home sales in the Austin area dipped in March year-over-year, while the median home-sales price climbed more than 5 percent, the latest figures show.
The Austin Board of Realtors said 2,509 houses changed hands last month, down 1.4 percent from March 2016. Half of the residences sold for more than $295,767 and half for less, for a 5.6 percent rise in the median home-sale price, the board said.
It was the second month this year of lackluster sales — volume rose just 0.9 percent in February in the Austin metro area, which stretches from Georgetown to San Marcos. That was the smallest increase for a February since 2009, when sales tanked 29 percent year-over-year.
Within Austin’s city limits, sales were up 1.2 percent in March year-over-year and the median price jumped 12.6 percent to $371,606, the board said.
Byron “Buddy” Schilling, president of JB Goodwin Realtors in Austin, said he was “shocked” to hear sales declined in the Austin metro area overall.
“We were crazy busy,” Schilling said of JB Goodwin, noting that the firm’s sales were up 16 percent companywide last month. “I really have no explanation for the disconnect between what we are experiencing in the marketplace and what the board is reporting.”
Eldon Rude, a local real estate expert, offered one explanation:
“After several years of increasing home sales in the region it is not surprising that our market finally paused for a month, although sales still remain at a high level,” said Rude, principal of 360 Real Estate Analytics, an Austin-based consulting firm. “With so little available inventory for homes priced below $250,000, fewer and fewer people in our area who want to purchase a home can find one that they can afford.”
Rude noted that “it’s possible that we have reached a plateau in sales volume for previously owned homes in the Austin MSA, with increasing new home production finally beginning to fill some of the gap in demand. The results of our most recent builder survey indicated that new home sales for the first three months of 2017 were up 5 percent from last year, and up over 30 percent compared to the same time period in 2015.”
Cari Clark, a real estate agent specializing in luxury home sales with Sotheby’s International Realty in Austin, said the market continues to be strong, but some pockets outside of the city;s core are softer than others.
“The places that I see the luxury market (over $2 million) softening are Barton Creek, Seven Oaks, and Spanish Oaks and Lakeway,” Clark said. “We are seeming more price reductions as sellers are having to back off their list prices. The $400,000 to $$500,000 market in the central part of the city is still very strong and sellers are seeing multiple offers on their property.”
Adam Walker, a broker associate with Realty Austin, said he expects to see home prices increase throughout the year.
“There is still substantially more demand than there is supply for homes in the area under $350,000 to $400,000,” Walker said. “Homes that are prepared well and priced appropriately are getting multiple offers and often times selling for more than the list price.”
Dane Carter, a real estate agent with TCP (Texas Capital Properties) Real Estate in Austin, said one of his clients recently put in a “best and final” offer over asking price, “and we were the third or fourth best offer. And that’s just one example. A lot of homes are selling well over asking price. It’s definitely a sellers’ market.”
Carlos Ojeda, a real estate broker with Realty Austin, said northwest areas including Cedar Park, Crystal Falls and Liberty Hill continue to sizzle, with many homes going under contract in one day.
“New and resale homes are reaching record prices in these areas because buyers can afford more home and land, in good locations within great school districts,” Ojeda said.
Gay Puckett, a broker associate with JB Goodwin, said the company’s relocation division “is busy helping many more incoming employees here, due to increased corporate hiring.”
“Sellers are very happy with this situation,” Puckett said. “There just are not enough sellers to go around.”