Austin-area Home Sales Spike at the End of the Year




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Big Jump in November Home Sales Sets up Austin Realtors for Another Record Year

Will Anderson– Austin-area Realtors are experiencing a surprising holiday rush to end the year.

Single-family home sales across the metro area grew 15.8 percent in November compared to the same month in 2015, according to data released Thursday by the Austin Board of Realtors.

“This end-of-year surge in home sales is an unusual and welcome surprise to what’s typically the lowest months for Central Texas home sales volume during the year,” ABOR President Aaron Farmer said in a statement. “Home sales throughout 2016 continue to be fueled by our region’s steady population growth.”

Home sales in Austin proper were up 13.7 percent year-over-year in November, while sales also increased across Williamson, Travis and Hays counties, a rare surge during a time of year when velocity in the residential market is typically subdued.

With November’s big uptick, the Austin area is likely to close 2016 with another record year of home sales. Through the first 11 months of the year, 27,107 houses have been sold in the area, 3.7 percent more than during the same period in 2015.

“Uncertainty regarding the election led to a relatively sluggish economy in August and September. It appeared that many buyers were waiting to see how the election turned out before deciding to buy,” Mark Sprague, state director of information capital for Independence Title Co., said in a statement. “Rising interest rates are also likely encouraging more people to buy a home. Millennial homebuyers, who comprise 51 percent of the Central Texas market, have never experienced an interest rate greater than 4 percent and thus could be motivated to buy sooner.”

Other takeaways from the ABOR report:

• The metro median home price jumped 7 percent to $294,245

• That’s still well below median home price in the city of Austin, which was up 4 percent to $342,000.

• The biggest jump in home prices was in Williamson County, with year-over-year growth of 12.1 percent to reach $275,000 (population growth has been particularly strong in these suburbs north of Austin, as this recent ABJ map of Census data shows)

• Housing inventory was unchanged at 2.3 months; most real estate experts consider a housing inventory of 6 months or greater to be a healthy balance between supply and demand.

“Housing inventory will continue to be one of the biggest challenges facing the Central Texas housing market in 2017,” Farmer said. “In some local markets such as Round Rock, inventory levels have fallen below [one month], which means that available housing stock is practically non-existent. It’s critical that our cities’ leaders begin to look at housing affordability not as just an Austin issue, but an issue affecting our entire region.”