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.
I just received my property tax appraisals from Travis Country Appraisal District (TCAD) and Williamson County Appraisal District (WCAD) for 2010. Doesn’t look like I’ll need to protest any property values this year. Some properties are borderline high, but not worth the time and effort to dispute because a) they are close enough, within a percent or two of my estimate, and b) some are low enough to offset the overage on the others, in my mind, and c) I still traumatized by my exposure to the utterly moronic and incompetent panel of idiots at my formal tax protest hearing last year. I need another year of recovery before I subject myself to that type of abuse again.
But as a home owner with only one property, even if your value is only a little bit high, it may be worth the effort to keep the value down so that the basis for future increases remains lower. And remember, if it’s your homestead, the value upon which you are taxed can’t rise more than 10% per year. This year, many of you will see an actual decrease in appraised value.
Each year Sylvia and I perform an increasing number of free comparative market analysis (CMA) for property owners seeking value guidance, or evidence to use in a property tax protest. That deal still stands. We did almost 100 of them last year, which actually benefits us as much as you because we get to really hone our CMA skills and see what home values are doing in many different parts of Austin. And many of you have turned into clients, which we really appreciate.
And here is a list of useful links to help you self-educate about the tax appraisal protest process at TCAD or WCAD in case you do decide to seek a reduction in appraised value.