The Austin real estate market for March 2010 saw a not surprising 22% increase in the number of sales compared to the same month a year ago. Average sold price was up 2.22%, median sold was slightly down at -0.66%. Before we call that “good news”, it would help to know that March 2009 was the lowest point in average/median sales prices in the past 2+ years. March 2010 average sales price is still lower than March 2008, two years ago, so average values are still treading water at best.
The Not Solds (expired/withdrawn) are down to 37% from 42.5% a year ago and 44% last month. First time buyers seeking the $8,000 tax credit are creating higher than normal demand. The question is what the market will do after the April 30th end date for tax credit buyers.
|Austin Real Estate Sales Market Update|
|Homes only (condos, duplexes, etc. not included) compiled from Austin MLS data|
|Feb 2010||Mar 2010||Mar 2009||Yr % Change|
|Avg $ SQFT||$112.62||$111.88||$107.89||3.70%|
|Not Sold %||44.61%||37.49%||42.52%||-11.84%|
Year to date, through March, average sold price is up about 2%. Number sold is up 10%. Other stats are relatively unchanged.
(Used with permission)
Risk of Major Home Price Decline Low in Texas, By David S. Jones, senior editor, Real Estate Center, Release No. 19-0410
COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (Real Estate Center) — A new study from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University explains why Texas’ housing market fared far better than other states during the current downturn. It also suggests why the state’s economy is expected to continue to do better than the rest of the nation in the coming months.
“Texas’ lower-than-national-average housing cost is one reason for the state’s higher-than-national-average growth rate,” said Dr. Ali Anari, a Center research economist and one of the study’s authors. “When Texans are able to spend more on nonhousing goods and services, the state’s economy is strengthened and more people attracted.
“These results illustrate one of the key reasons the Texas economy outperforms the United States in terms of job growth almost every year,” said Center Chief Economist Dr. Mark Dotzour. “The fact that Texans pay less of their income for housing means they have more to spend on other things that add to the overall quality of life. Texas offers a lower cost of living than many places in the United States.
“This allows Texas employers to be able to attract workers at a reasonable wage rate that allows them to compete successfully in the global economy,” said Dotzour.
Read more …
As we head into the final weekend preceding the final work week of April, and the $8,000 1st time homebuyer tax credit winds down (thank God), I’m seeing a surge of new Austin real estate listings coming on the market each day as well as a huge increase in the number of showings for most of our own listings.
In other words, supply and demand are in a foot race with each other, and both have kicked in the after-burners.
This has caused us, as real estate agents, to behave in abnormal ways as we advise buyers and sellers. I had to tell a seller last week, “I think it’s better that we get your home on the market right away in ‘good enough’ condition rather than burn up a week of market time putting it into ‘perfect’ condition”. Mainly, I didn’t want to burn through one of only two remaining weekends waiting for new flooring to be installed or our professional stager and photographer to do their thing.
Instead, Sylvia staged the house herself, the seller bought some mulch and plants, we left some worn out old sheet vinyl on the kitchen floor, didn’t have the carpets shampooed, and I took my own photos, which look ok but not great. We got that sucker listed and in the MLS 2 days after I first met the seller at the property. Met on a Monday, had it in the MLS on Wednesday. Had our first offer that weekend, though that one didn’t pan out because it was too low.
Why the rush, and is this the right thing to do? I don’t know.
Read more …
You’ve no doubt heard of Zillow, and know how inaccurate its Austin real estate valuations can be. That’s not completely the fault of Zillow because Texas is a non-disclosure state, meaning when you sell your house, it’s nobody’s business what you sold it for, or what the buyer paid.
This results in limited sold data being available in public records. Thusly, it’s more difficult for third party estimation tools such as Zillow, Trulia and Yahoo to produce an accurate home value estimate. In most states, all real estate sales data is public record and thus there is more data from which to draw conclusions about a particular home value. Not so in Texas. So, with the exception of lower valued homogeneous neighborhoods where value ranges fall within a fairly tight range of size, age and condition, estimates from Zillow (or Zestimates as they call them), can be all over the map, sometimes grossly inaccurate.
Lately I’ve been experimenting with a new valuation tool that mashes up public data with actual Austin MLS sold data. This is called Value Map and is provided by our Austin MLS to its members. I have mine it set up at AustinValueMap.com because the default url is long and ugly. It’s free, no signup required. And so far, I’m finding it to be surprisingly accurate, though of course not perfect. You can also sign up for alerts when a property similar to yours and within a two mile radius is sold. For some reason, though provided by our Austin MLS, you can type an address from anywhere in the U.S., not just Austin. Try it out, let me know what you think about the accuracy of the value for your property, even if you’re not in Austin.
Lending and appraisal companies seem to be trending toward automated valuation system. The Value Map product is used by banks and appraisers all over the country. It uses a proprietary algorithm to determine values. Often, when we sell a house, the bank trusts the value produced by this methodology and won’t even order a full appraisal, opting instead for a “drive by” appraisal, where an appraiser drives by to make sure the house is indeed there, but doesn’t go inside or perform the full appraisal. I think this is dumb.
On the other hand, though it might be inaccurate, the valuation tool won’t commit purposeful fraud, as many appraisers and lenders did during the most recent real estate boom. So it may be, from a bank/lender perspective, the benefit of fraud elimination outweighs the occasional over-appraising of a home. And probably, if the value is way off from the contract price, they’re going to order a full appraisal anyway.
But as a buyer or seller, will there ever come a day when you simply type in your address and it spits out the true market value of your home (what a buyer would pay)? No (except by coincidence), and here’s why.
Read more …
Finally, a top 10 list that spares Austin the humiliation of being listed on yet another Top 10. Let all Austinites inhale a deep breath of humility. This top 10 is a list of the top one-way U-Haul rental destinations.
From the press release:
U-Haul compiles the list based on more than 1 million U-Haul one-way truck rentals to and from municipalities with more than 5,000 families moving in or out of the area. “Growth cities were then determined by calculating the percentage of inbound moves vs. outbound moves for each area,” explained John “J.T.” Taylor, U-Haul president of Phoenix Operations.
The top municipalities were:
1. Bronx, N.Y.
3. Portland, Ore.
5. Los Angeles
7. Tampa, Fla.
8. Orlando, Fla.
9. Charlotte, N.C.
10. Van Nuys, Calif.
I don’t know anything about the real estate markets in the above 10 cities – or do I? I know it costs a lot more to drive a one-way U-Haul rental to one of those cities than away from it. And I know it costs more because too many U-Haul trucks are piling up in these destination cities. And why are they piling up? Obviously because people are moving there. And since all those people will either need to rent or buy a home, that tells me the probable direction of the real estate market in those areas. And it’s the direction in which a real estate market is heading that most determines the behavior of buyers and sellers, and thus pricing trends. Thus the seemingly ridiculous proclamation in the title of this blog, Everything You Need to Know About Real Estate is at U-Haul.com.
The U-Haul rental cost calculator is an interesting tool to play with. It provides a migration snapshot, through the pricing differentials, of where too many U-Haul trucks are piling up and where they are in short supply. For example, let’s price a rental between Detroit to Austin and check the price gap depending on which way you’re heading.
Read more …
Job growth is the major leading indicator for the real estate market. When employers are hiring, buyers are buying. Though Austin remains in slightly negative territory, it’s the direction of the trend we care about. Austin unemployment never got as bad as the national numbers, and remains in the 6% range compared to 10% nationwide.
So when people ask “how is the real estate market in Austin TX”, the question can always be answered in terms of supply and demand. We are expecting a shortage in supply due to over-correction by builders, and job growth improvement will cause increased demand to coincide with inventory shrinkage, causing prices to rise.
Will this happen this summer? I don’t think so. But these indicators are pointing to a possibly robust 2011.
The following press release from the Real Estate Center in College Station discusses job growth in Texas. Used with permission.
COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (Real Estate Center) — College Station-Bryan (1.4 percent), Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood (0.8 percent), Waco (0.2 percent) and McAllen-Edinburg-Mission (0.1 percent) led the state in employment growth rates during the year ending in February. They were the only metros in positive territory.
That report comes from Dr. Ali Anari and Dr. Mark Dotzour in their Monthly Review of the Texas Economy for March. The other 22 metros had net job losses, say the Real Estate Center researchers.
The Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos metro almost made it into positive territory, ranking fifth with a -0.6 percent job growth loss. San Antonio-New Braunfels employment growth was down 2 percent and ranked 12th.
Read more …