The Austin real estate market did about what we expected in 2011, which wasn’t much. Basically treading water with some slight improvements, but nothing that represents a notable shift in market activity. Instead, it looks like momentum is building for a breakout year of increased activity and rising prices either in 2012 or 2013.
Let’s start with a look back at the past 12 years for some context.
From 1999 to 2001, you see the effects of the Tech Bubble, as Austin experienced strong job growth, which in turn drives housing demand. From 2002 through 2004 (and most of 2005, though not obvious from the graph), Austin housing prices were flat, as we suffered the hangover of lost jobs after the Tech Bubble bust. Then in 2005 jobs returned as well as a lot of real estate investors who felt that other areas such as Phoenix, Las Vegas, Boise, Florida, etc. (which we now know were in a severe bubble) were playing out. So we had a mini burst of strong buyer demand through about the middle of 2007. After dipping in 2008, prices have slowly climbed since then, though many homes still sell for 2007 prices. By 2010, overall values were back to 2007 prices and have now surpasses the 2007 high. That’s the Austin real estate market in a nutshell, for the past 12 years.
Let’s look at the gains in 2011 compared to 2010.
The number of residential home sales in Austin continued to fall off for September. Even record low interest rates are not enough to motivate buyers. Most buyers who really need to buy already did so earlier this year. Looks like everyone else is hunkering down and waiting.
Let’s start with the year to date stats.
|Austin Real Estate Market Year to Date Jan-Sep 2010|
|Homes only (no condos, duplexes, etc) – Data from Austin MLS|
|Jan-Sep 10||Jan-Sep 09||Yr % Change|
|Avg $ SQFT||$115.67||$112.38||2.93%|
|Not Sold %||44.91%||42.58%||5.47%|
I start with the YTD stats because it’s easier to put the September stats into context if we first look at the first 3 quarters compared to the same 9 months a year ago. What we see above is that the number of sales for 2010 overall is just slightly below the same period a year ago. Hidden in the figures is the fact that much of 2010 was front loaded to the earlier part of the year due to the tax credit that drew first time buyers into the market earlier than they would have otherwise entered.
We see that the average and median sold prices are up year to date, but so is the number of failed sales listings (expired and withdrawn). Days on market is down to 69 average from 75 a year ago. This is counter-intuitive when viewed with the higher “not solds”, but is a reflection of a bifurcated market in which some homes sell quickly to waiting buyers and other languish, often without more than a few scattered showings. This is frustrating for sellers and agents as our margin of error in setting list prices is higher than normal because of the unpredictability of the market.
Let’s see what happened in Sept 2010 compared to Sept 2009.