Austin Real Estate Market – Year 2010 Summary and 2011 Predictions

by Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX on February 6, 2011 · 6 comments

The Austin real estate market finished 2010 with increased overall sales prices. The market is roughly a bit higher than the peak 2007 values. See the graph below for an illustration of Austin home sales values from 1999 through 2010.

Austin Real Estate Sales Market Graph

The graph can be deceiving though. It simply represents the cumulative data from all MLS sales. Certainly, most homes in Austin are at or still below the 2007 values. Some are significantly below the 2007 values, especially in the high end at $500K and above. For the entire year of 2010, 48% of all MLS listings departed the MLS as a failed sales effort (expired or withdrawn). Anytime half the listings are not finding buyers, it’s a tough market for sellers overall.

On the flip side, 2010 was not exactly a “buyer’s market” in Austin. There was little to no “low hanging fruit” to be plucked from the market. Sellers were, for the most part, not crying Uncle and were not dropping prices drastically. Yes, we have anecdotal examples of some good deals that were had by some buyers, but most buyers were simply frustrated at the difference between the perceived “buyer’s market” and the actual reality of trying to find a great home at a great price.

The only winners in 2010 were the sellers who were fortunate enough to sell quickly at an acceptable price, and the buyers who allowed for themselves enough flexibility and patience to eventually find the right combination of motivated seller and acceptable home. It was not a good year for picky buyers with narrow parameters, as they kept running into stubborn sellers unwilling to negotiate to the degree buyers thought warranted by market conditions.

Year 2011 will be more of the same in the Austin real estate market, but volume will pick up and I believe sellers will start enjoying a slightly better market. 2012 is the year that things will really bust loose again, in my opinion, but we’ll see. 2011 may have a surprise upswing in store if job growth continues to pick up in Austin. More market stats below.

The following graph illustrates the ups and downs in market prices over the past 35 months in Austin.

Austin real Estate sales market stats

Austin sales market trailing 34 months.

The graph above is a month by month picture of medain and average sold values in Austin. As you can see, the market swings up and down quite a bit, but for the most part, remains within a range close to $250K for average sold price and $190K for median price. Both median and average sold prices ended the 35 month period not far from where they started on the graph. The market started trying to bust out of that range about 7 months ago (following the end of the tax credit sales, and thus an artificial bump in sold values) but has settled back in to the range. When we start to see a stead, sustained climb, we’ll know that prices are heading up again for good.

Below is the 2010/2011 comparison chart in table format. The green fields represent “improvements” in market values ad activity, the red fields show movement in a direction that would favor buyers. As you can see, 2010 looked better for sellers than it did for buyers, the high numbers of expired and withdrawn not withstanding. In other words, buyers who’ve decided to sit out the market the past couple of years waiting for values to plunge have not seen that happen.

Austin Sales Market Update – End of Year 2010
Homes only (no condos, duplexes, etc) – Data from Austin MLS

Jan-Dec 10 Jan-Dec 09 Yr % Change
# Sold 17,676 18,636 -5.15%
Avg List $266,160 $256,849 3.63%
Med List $199,900 $196,494 1.73%
Avg Sold $255,070 $245,765 3.79%
Med Sold $195,000 $190,000 2.63%
Sold/List % 95.83% 95.68% 0.16%
Avg SQFT 2,213 2,177 1.65%
Med SQFT 2,018 1,971 2.38%
Avg $ SQFT $115.26 $112.89 2.10%
Avg DOM 73 75 -2.67%
Median DOM 48 47 2.13%
# Expired 6,283 5,920 6.13%
# Withdrawn 9,904 8,600 15.16%
Not Sold 16,187 14,520 11.48%
Not Sold % 47.80% 43.79% 9.15%

As you can see above, the ups and downs are fairly moderate. And it was such a weird year due to the economy and the tax credit sales that it’s harder to place real meaning on the numbers than it would be in a completely normal market operating with fewer external factors. As usual, comments, observations and opinions are welcome. I’ll be working on the breakdown by specific areas next week and we’ll see if there were any clear winners or losers from a geographic standpoint.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Craig February 10, 2011 at 6:22 am

Steve is it possible to break the year into two halves? From memory, the tax credit boosted sales until about mid June and then things slowed down. At least that will account for one major external factor. I agree with your positive views on the Austin economy I just don’t think it is guaranteed to juice home prices. We still have two government stimulus programs that will eventually go away: mortgage subsidies and fiscal/monetary stimulus. These scale of these programs is unprecedented and they matter a lot to housing right now. Buyers had good reason to be cautious last year and I was not one of those smug sellers. It was obvious that the government was doing everything possible to encourage buyers but it was my job to be aggressive on price.

2 Brian Porter February 13, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Very positive article. It is nice to see that some parts of the country are doing OK. It seems like we just see news about the bad markets like Las Vegas and Phoenix on TV.

3 Robert February 15, 2011 at 10:58 am

Steve, your blog is an oasis of common sense and honesty compared to so many of the other local realtors. One stat that is typically overlooked, though, and that deserves more attention, is the number of properties posted for foreclosure. In 2010, Travis and Williamson counties combined for over 13,000 foreclosures (it was over 15,000 when you include Bastrop and Hayes). The combined total in January of this year for all 4 counties, over 1300, was 17% higher than January of 2010. Is this trend expected to continue for 2011, and what impact might that have on the rest of the market?

4 Steve Crossland, Austin REALTOR February 15, 2011 at 11:11 am

Hi Craig, yes the year 2010 did have “two halves” essentially. First half was was hyper-stimulated, second had a hangover.There really isn’t anything noteworthy to be gleaned from analyzing each half separately though. They were what they were. Going forward, our year-over-year in 2011 will also be compared to distorted prior periods, so I’m really waiting until 2012 for all this to clear and normal market behavior to return.

Robert, thanks for your comments. Foreclosures don’t really show up on mine and Sylvia’s radar. We don’t work areas affected by foreclosures (by choice) and, since they do not represent better bargain opportunities, we don’t even focus on them as target properties for investors.

In fact, if an investor/buyer insisted on focusing on foreclosures, I’d tell him to work with another agent exclusively on foreclosures and with me on non-foreclosures and I’d bet that I could find a better deal.

Steve

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