Record Setting Year for Austin Real Estate

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“According the to report released today, Austin-area home sales reached a historic high for the month, while housing inventory dropped to an all-time low.”  That was the opening sentence to the end of year (December) Austin housing market report released by the Austin Board of Realtors but in all honesty you could have plugged in just about any month over the past year and the story would have read the same.

The Austin Real Estate Market set records across the board in 2013, a year that echoed the significance of a bustling local economy.  More than 27,000 single-family homes and 3000+ condominium units sold in 2013, setting all-time highs in both categories.  The 30,460 total single-family residences sold in 2013 marked a 19.5% increase over the prior year.  Home prices rose by eight percent and condo prices by nine.  At the end of the year, the median price for a home in the Austin metro area was $223,890, considerably higher than years prior and a glaring indication of widespread housing demand.

The year began with an insufficient supply of local housing to support an increasing buyer pool that had been waiting on the sidelines (albeit impatiently) for the past 3-4 years for the national economy to signal a significant change of direction.  The year ended with similar challenges as December capped off a monumental year with just 2.1 months of available housing inventory.  In other words, a market that would be completely wiped out in two months should new listing activity stall completely.  Sarah Williams, a Realtor for Liberty Hill Real Estate said the market was doing so well that she couldn’t believe it.  A seller’s market to say the least, but an extremely challenging market for buyers and sellers alike who are faced with a quick purchase timelines after having their previous home sell so quickly. 

The average home spent just shy of 50 days on the market ahead of sale in 2013, 31% less time than the year prior.  Further, median days on market for local housing fell to 22 days for the year and less than two weeks for a four-month span from April to July.

Concerns of looming “shadow inventory” of foreclosure & distressed properties waiting to be dumped on the market proved largely unfounded – in Texas especially. Foreclosure activity dipped to less than 1.5% of households in the state of Texas as escalating property values pulled many an underwater homeowner back on dry land.  Many experts are now predicting that such an impending doom is no longer a cause for concern for two reasons.  First off, the controlling institutions (banks) have nothing to gain by watering down the market with distressed inventory and second, rising property values have offset the typical burden of carrying such properties for a longer term.

Austin Condo Market –  The Austin condo market enjoyed massive gains in 2013 as sales showed a 24% increase over the previous year.  Median and average sale price rose 8/10% for the year and price per square foot jumped 13%.  Condos spent only 50 days on market, thirty percent less time than 2012.

Austin Rental Market – A market with very little room for upward mobility showed modest gains in 2013.  The number of res. leases rose 3% for the year.  Average lease price increased 4% and median price 6%.  At the end of the year, the rental market in Austin was 95.7 occupied.

Central Texas Rural Market – Though small in relative size, the farm and ranch market showed the largest gains of any market segment in 2013.  Sales of farm and ranch properties rose 34% for the year.  Average price followed suit at +11% and median price at +4%.  Properties spent 5% less time on market (196 days).

Central Texas Land Market – Austin has a huge shortage in desirable lots in buildable condition.  But that didn’t slow sales in 2013.  Volume increased 21% and prices climbed 7 percent.  An average lot sat on the market for 225 days before sale over the past year.  Active lot listings are down 17 percent at year’s end.