Everybody loves Austin. Or so it seems. If the recent Forbes article “Austin Envy” wasn’t enough (though it mistakenly claims we still have Austin Hippies – we don’t. And, please, NOBODY refers to Austin as “Silicon Hills”), the final proof was in the finale of The Office, in which Jim and Pam decide to leave Scranton PA, bound for, of course, Austin, TX.
This makes sense. I mean, what other U.S. city could they have decided upon? Pittsburg? Phoenix? Orlando? No, the writers of The Office got it right. Jim and Pam are likable characters. We want the best for them. They’ve paid their dues in the decaying armpit that is Scranton PA, and they are deserving of a bright and optimistic new life. Austin is the only U.S. city for which this “new beginnings” story line would work. Fans can cheer the decision to move to Austin like they can no other city. It requires no explanation. It’s, like, “of course”. Self-explanatory. And we can feel good about that for them.
And what should Jim and Pam expect when they get here? Where will they live?
Homes values in Austin are trending up overall. This graph shown below can be deceptive though, because market activity is highly localized within pockets and neighborhoods. Let’s have a look and I’ll discuss further below.
It’s impoortant to understand what a graph like this is and what it isn’t. It’s not an indicator of the value of your specific home. Many homes in Austin still won’t sell for the price they sold for in 2007. Many will sell for more now. It’s very dependent on activity and demand in your local area.
We recently listed a home in Avery Ranch at a farily agressive price and had multiple offers right out of the gate. That actually surprised me. Many other homes in Avery Ranch are just sitting though. We put our listing through a lot of prep and staging in preparation for the market, and the market responded. I see a lot of listings that may look similar on paper, but when you walk in, they fall flat on preparation and staging, often with dumb things left undone such as minor touchup paint and yard cleanup.
Meanwhile, one of our Central Austin listings which is priced well (a 3/2 under $250K) in a great location off S. 1st in the 78704 zipcode isn’t receiving the level of activity we’d expect at that price point in that location. It’s staged and well prepared as well (though it did have tenants occupying it at first). But we’re still waiting for the right buyer. This is frustrating. I know this house is a good deal but can’t explain why the market isn’t responding.
So, “prices in Austin are up” doesn’t apply to every home.
Nevertheless, the chart is meant to show the overall macro trend as indicated by the data in the entire Austin MLS for all homes sold. From that viewpoint, the Austin real estate market has surpassed the former peak of 2007 and looks to be experiencing increased values overall. Eventually, a rising tide floats all boats and that’s where I think we’re heading. I think Austin is on the leading edge of what may be a steady 4 to 7 year up cycle. Not a boom per se, but steady and reasonable value appreciation of 3% to 5% annually.