Southwest Austin Future Looks Solid

This article about real estate in Southwest Austin was emailed to me today. It supports what we’ve been telling investors and buyers for almost three years now – South and Southwest Austin are the places to buy real estate in Austin.

Nicely written, the article is from the online “Community Impact Newspaper“.

Here you go:

Lots of people want to move to Southwest Austin and that is a good thing for the local housing market, according to Ryan Robinson, the demographer for the City of Austin.

In 2004, he completed his last major forecast that predicted some of the city’s greatest numbers would move to Southwest Austin by 2010. From 2000-2010, he estimated the most people, 10,254 new residents, would come to the 78748 Zip code, near IH 35 and Slaughter Lane, alone. With only two years left until those estimates expire, he thinks the projections are on target, and as a result, homes will continue to sell, despite the national trend.

“Austin is today one of the healthiest housing markets in the country,” he said. “We’ve always been the envy of many other cities, but we find ourselves in a really good position right now.”

That is true, he added, especially for Oak Hill and the Circle C area.

“Oak Hill, I would say, as a sub-region is healthier than Austin and if Austin can maintain its relative economic health over the rest of the country then I don’t see anything that tells me that Oak Hill is not going to maintain its position as being one of Austin’s better, stronger neighborhoods,” he said.

Keller Williams Realtor Shelli Williams does most of her business in the southern and western sides of Austin and said although some people point to declining sales in the last year, she is not worried.

In March, she closed on five homes-one had multiple offers and two sold in less than 30 days after entering the market. She admits that some young realtors have struggled to enter the profession lately, but most of her colleagues are doing well. She has her own gauge for how she is doing.

“I am not starving to death,” she said.

Best because of a bust

Robinson said the main reason Austin will not experience the same upset as other cities is because it never developed the same housing market growth.

“Yes, housing prices have gone up in almost every part of the region, probably more than most people would like, but it has not been the kind of thing that when you buy a house for $175,000 that the next year you can sell it for $350,000,” he said. “We have had a much more gradual, reasonable, steady increase in our values, so that today is one of the big sources in our stability. Plus, something very important and basic is we are creating new jobs and you don’t see that in every part of the country.”

The unemployment rate for the Austin/Round Rock metropolitan in November was at 3.5 percent compared with 4.1 percent for Texas and 4.7 percent for the United States. Ironically, Robinson said the tech crash in 2001 may be Austin’s saving grace because it forced the city to slow its growth and diversify the job sectors for local employment.

Why Southwest?

So as people continue to work and move to Austin, south of Town Lake is a popular place to live-and it is an eclectic group of residents moving there, according to Williams. A few are still relocations from California, most are first-time buyers taking advantage of low interest rates and those moving around the city. Others are older residents ready to downsize their home.

She said the community’s culture, easy access to the airport, proximity to the lakes, shopping and major transportation infrastructure all make the area attractive at any price, but the main reason for growth is basic affordability and convenience.

Prices can range at the very low end at around $100,000 and escalate to the millions farther west.

“You can get a lot for your money,” she said.

Robinson has also paid attention to who is moving into the neighborhoods, focusing on the type of growth in concentrated areas. Middle class, first- and second-generation Hispanic families are moving into the neighborhoods closer to IH 35. One southeast neighborhood in particular is an extreme and exclusive example. Dove Springs on Stassney Lane had a 95 percent Latino population when last recorded in the 2000 census.

The opposite is true for the neighborhoods to the west. They are becoming increasingly Caucasian and attracting more and more Asian residents. Again, these neighborhoods are dominated by families, with eighty-five percent of Circle C’s residents falling into this category.

In the future

During the next several years, Robinson expects property values to increase steadily with all the trends he has already seen accelerating. Oak Hill particularly will become “more of a Westlake for middle class families,” he said.

According to the Austin Board of Realtors, homes in the 78735 Zip code sold for $375,000 at the median price in 2007. In the first few months of 2008, that price has jumped to around $600,000. Values are going to escalate because limited land is available for developers to build, Robinson said.

It will overall be less commercial, he thinks, because residential builders will fight for the land. What he does anticipate is redevelopment, such as at the retail center at the Y in Oak Hill.

“This is a perfect candidate. I would not be surprised if you see this as a mixed-use, residential, loft-like development,” he said. “The future of Oak Hill is going to be less and less traditional high-end single family subdivisions and more what we are seeing in the urban core-and that is relatively upscale, mixed use condos.”

5 thoughts on “Southwest Austin Future Looks Solid”

  1. $4/gallon with no hope of ever being served feasibly by public transportation. Seems like a losing bet to me.

    (I don’t expect infill to continue now that the NIMBY queen has been elected to city council; but suburbs with better potential transit access to downtown or the 183 corridor will probably outperform those that don’t have it).

  2. $4 gallon doesn’t mean high density and mass transit, it means hybrid and smart car.
    15 MPG @ $2 per gallon = 30 MPG @ $4 per gallon = 45 MPG @ $6 gallon

  3. We recently relocated to SW Austin from a big city out of state. We spent a weekend in January touring areas all over Austin before narrowing down our top choices…Steiner and SW Austin.

    I can’t imagine living anywhere other than Oak Hill. Location, location, location. Hill Country look and feel, incredible convenience to downtown and the airport, and good schools. It was actually a no-brainer decision.

    Knowing what I now know about this area, people moving here aren’t necessarily feeling the pinch of $4 or even $5.50 gas versus $3.50 gas. It is a nuisance and it may add $20 or $25 dollars to overall monthly expenses, but we aren’t radically changing our lives to accommodate it. I’ll be curious to see if it has any material impact on the value of homes in the coming years. If I were a betting man (and I am), I’d guess any impact would be immaterial.

  4. I live near Saughter and Mopac and own a rental house near Davis and Mopac. All near Circle C, and to me this area is close in as it gets for the price.Less than 10 minutes to Downtown, how can anyone compare it to 183 corridor?
    This is a great sleeper area and their are some homes still aailable in niche areas close by for around $150K .


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