Central Texas home sales, median price rise in August

Central Texas’ summer home-selling season ended on a strong note in August, with annual gains in both home sales and median prices, the Austin Board of Realtors said Thursday.

Single-family home sales rose 5.3 percent over the same month last year, with 2,985 home sales in the Austin-Round Rock metro area, the board said. The median sale price was up 9.4 percent compared with the prior August, with half the houses selling for more than $289,990 and half for less than that amount.

The report covers home sales in Travis, Hays, Williamson, Bastrop and Caldwell counties.

“Austin, and now the Central Texas region at large, continues to be a magnet for jobs and new businesses across multiple industries,” Aaron Farmer, president of the Austin Board of Realtors, said in a written statement. “This continues to keep housing demand at an all-time high and inventory at near-record lows despite strong housing development and a greater number of listings on the market.”

The largest gain in August was in Hays County, where sales jumped 23.2 percent year-over-year, with 377 home sales. The median price for single-family homes in Hays County increased 7.8 percent, to $253,250. In Williamson County, sales were largely flat in August, up 0.7 percent year-over-year with 1,035 home sales. The median price in Williamson County increased 6.6 percent, to $261,250.

Sales also were slow within Austin’s city limits, increasing 0.8 percent year-over-year to 868 home sales. Austin’s median price rose 10.3 percent year-over-year, to $356,276.

In the region overall, housing supply has been lagging demand for some time. Buyers are quickly scooping up houses when new stock becomes available, Farmer said.

“This is especially true in Williamson and Hays Counties, where housing demand and development activity are strongest,” Farmer said.

The low supply of housing coupled with strong demand from job and population growth has been driving home prices higher in the region, leading to concerns with affordability among city leaders, housing advocates and others.

And as land and development costs have risen, “there are now only a few areas throughout the region where new homes can be built under $250,000,” said Eldon Rude, a longtime housing analyst and principal of 360 Real Estate Analytics, an Austin-based consulting firm.

“In most areas, entry-level homes are now often priced in the mid $200s and a majority of home starts are priced in the high $200s or more,” Rude said.

House hunters could be finding some relief in the price reductions that some real estate agents say they are seeing in the market, in some areas.

“We are seeing price reductions at every level of the market and especially in the luxury market — $750,000 and above,” said Kathryn Scarborough, president of the Engel & Völkers real estate franchise in the Austin area. “Days on market are up and inventory is up, so it’s important sellers price their properties based on where they are and the price point within the market or they will sit.”

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