Historically in Texas, homes have appreciated at 4.5% annually (according to Texas A&M Real Estate Center). This is the expected appreciation we use when making real estate investment assumptions as well. For example, a $200,000 home would increase in value to $209,000 if appreciation was 4.5% for that year.
If you wanted to save for 1 year a 5% downpayment for a $200,000 home in Austin, you would save 5% of the future value of the home, not the current value. You would save for a $209K purchase, $10,450, not $10,000, if saving just for 1 year.
Starting in about 2012, homes in Austin have appreciated at a much greater rate, closer to 8% annually. This makes it harder to save for a down payment, like chasing a vanishing horizon. Also, there are no more $200,000 homes. The median value of a home in Austin is now about $400,000 if you want to actually be in Austin itself, versus the greater Austin outskirts areas.
So, today, if you want to save for a $400K median value Austin home, and you want to buy it in 3 years with a 5% downpayment, for example, and 8% annual appreciation rates continue, you will need to assume the median value Austin home will cost $503,885 in 3 year. That really sucks doesn’t it? If you are trying to live cheap and save for a downpayment? Waiting 3 years will cost you another $100K in purchase price.