Austin Real Estate Market – Feb 2009 Update

The average and median sold prices in Austin are up for February 2009. Average sold price is up 6.29% from Feb a year ago and median sold price is up 2.65% from last year. Last month (Jan 2009) you might remember sold prices had dropped about 5%. So the Austin market is “undulating” a bit, sort of like the stock market except that we’re now actually up YTD for the same period 2008 as well.

Volume of sales dropped 25% for Feb compared to Feb 2008, but that’s an improvement from the volume drop of 40% in Jan. The number of “Not Solds” (expired or withdrawn) is at 50% for February, meaning half the listings that departed the MLS were failed sales efforts. Let’s look at the breakdown of the rest of the Austin single family home sales for Feb 2009:

• Number of homes sold is down 25% (was down 40% last month) from 1,315 Feb 2008 to 989 Feb 2009.
• Average list prices in Austin were up 6.89% over the same month last year to $264,044.
• Average sold prices in Austin were up 6.29% over the same month last year to $252,132 from $237,218 a year ago.
• Median sold price was up 2.65% to $194,000. Last year in Feb it was $189,000.
• Average List to Sold price ratio is 95.49%, down slightly from 96.00% the same month last year.
• Avg sold price per square foot is up 0.18% to $114.04 compared to $113.83 a year ago in Feb.
• Avg days on market is up 12 days (18.75%) from 64 last year to 76 this November.
• Median days on market is up 15 days (20%) from 69 days last year to 83 Feb this year.
• Number of “Not Sold” (exp or withdrawn) is up 20% over the same month last year, to 50% of all removed listings compared to 42% for the same month last year. This is actually a fairly healthy drop from the 61% Not Sold ratio in Jan and the 58% in December.

Most of this is favorable, but it would be foolish to think one month means anything. We would need to see a sustained trend upward, for three months in a row leading into the summer, accompanied by better economic news nationally, before I’d get too excited about the Austin market. Still, as real estate markets go, Austin is stubborn and is hanging in there better than almost any other city in the U.S.

The stats outlined above are shown in the chart below.


Austin Real Estate Sales Market Update
Homes only (condos, duplexes, etc. not included) compiled from Austin MLS data

Jan 2009 Feb 2009 Feb 2008 Yr % Change
# Sold 780 989 1315 -24.79%
Avg List $249,669 $264,044 $247,099 6.86%
Med List $189,900 $199,900 $189,000 5.77%
Avg Sold $235,513 $252,132 $237,218 6.29%
Med Sold $180,875 $194,000 $189,000 2.65%
Sold/List % 94.33% 95.49% 96.00% -0.53%
Avg SQFT 2173 2211 2084 6.09%
Med SQFT 1950 2043 1907 7.13%
Avg $ SQFT $108.38 $114.04 $113.83 0.18%
Avg DOM 82 83 69 20.29%
Median DOM 66 64 53 20.75%
# Expired 537 400 451 -11.31%
# Withdrawn 682 589 492 19.72%
Not Sold 1219 989 943 4.88%
Not Sold % 60.98% 50.00% 41.76% 19.72%


The year to date chart is below, showing how we’re doing through Feb 2009 compared to Jan-Feb 2008.

Austin Sales Market YTD Update – Feb 2009
Homes only (no condos, duplexes, etc) – Data from Austin MLS

Jan-Feb 09 Jan-Feb 08 Yr % Change
# Sold 1780 2789 -36.18%
Avg List $257,503 $253,454 1.60%
Med List $195,809 $191,445 2.28%
Avg Sold $244,639 $242,716 0.79%
Med Sold $188,745 $185,000 2.02%
Sold/List % 95.00% 95.76% -0.79%
Avg SQFT 2191 2125 3.11%
Med SQFT 1991 1930 3.16%
Avg $ SQFT $111.66 $114.22 -2.24%
Avg DOM 83 71 16.90%
Median DOM 65 54 20.37%
# Expired 938 1077 -12.91%
# Withdrawn 1271 1129 12.58%
Not Sold 2209 2206 0.14%
Not Sold % 55% 44% 25.39%


I was expecting 2009 to be a year in which our prices in Austin slide 3% to 5%. January came out of the gate with 5% drops on median and average prices, but the market rebound in February has us actually UP YTD through Feb 2009. I’m not going to hazard a firm guess about March, but Sylvia and I have personally seen an uptick in activity compared to January and Feb, and I’m hearing the same from other agents in the office.

And as I wrote in the January update, “smoking hot” deals are not very easy to find. Many of the builders are now raising base prices on “to be built” homes, though still offering agressive discounts on spec homes, of which there are very few though. Nationally, we know it takes over a million new housing units a year just to keep up with “family creation” that results from migration and births, and we’re now producing only about one third of what is needed. Austin is in a similar situation, as the builders have pulled back so far that we’ll probably see a housing shortage and price boom in a couple of years as supply falls short of demand.

On a side note, we closed a deal Friday where our buyers had an interest rate below 5% and will be receiving an $8,000 tax credit on their 2008 tax return now, which represents about 5% of the sales price on the home being rebated by the government. The buyers are elated. Sorry, but nobody can convince me that these buyers should have remained renters, sitting on the sidelines trying to “time” the market while they wring their hands and worry about the economy. No, they are very smart and they’ve done the right thing, which is find a great deal and buy it.

Back to the stats, below is a breakdown of Feb sales by price range.


Pricing and Inventory Analysis for Austin Homes Feb 2009
Price Range Number Sold DOM Active Months Inventory
$149,999 or under 273 63 1,666 5.46
$150,000 – $199,999 241 68 1,501 5.89
$200,000 – $249,999 145 95 1,093 7.94
$250,000 – $299,999 115 89 1,009 10.44
$300,000 – $349,999 53 98 630 9.55
$350,000 – $399,999 48 113 629 13.88
$400,000 – $449,999 27 109 379 13.54
$450,000 – $499,999 21 122 374 21.58
$500,000 – $549,999 15 99 203 15.62
$550,000 – $599,999 8 97 231 28.88
$600,000 – $699,999 19 138 330 22.00
$700,000 – $799,999 5 121 219 31.29
$800,000 – $899,999 4 97 174 40.15
$900,000 – $999,999 1 257 95 47.50
$1,000,000 or over 14 169 514 37.61


Note above the far right column, which tells us the months of inventory for that price range. 6 months is considered a balanced market where neither the buyer or seller have the advantage. More than 6 months is a buyer’s market, less than 6 month’s moves into seller’s market territory. Really, a range of 5 to 7 months is the balanced range. So, if you’re a buyer looking in a price range below $200,000 in Austin, you can see that it’s a balanced market, which is why it’s not necessarily that easy to go out and find a “steal” in that price range.

Notice how the inventory jumps up to eight months at $200K-$250K, and up to 10+ months for the rest of the price range chart. If you’re a seller priced above $350K, this is a tough set of numbers to be looking at. You either need to get serious about selling your home, or pull it from the market. Look at the $900K range (where we just walked away from a listing because the seller refused to acknowledge these numbers). Last month, ONE home sold in the $900K-$1M range – ONE home, and there are 95 currently listed in that range. Which one of the 95 Austin homes priced at $900K do you think will be the next to sell? It ain’t gonna be the over-priced ones, that’s for sure. Yet so many sellers think there is something “special” about their particular home. The only “special” attribute that matters is price and condition. Those are the factors you can control. Get real, or get off the market. The numbers can’t be ignored.

Finally, I’ve updated my YTD historic Austin sales graph, which had an ugly dip for 2009 last month but now looks a lot different. Don’t bet on it staying the same for next month, it could dip again or go up. I’m leaning toward an uptick just based on what I am seeing and hearing, but it’s anybody’s guess in this economic environment. As usual, comments and observations are welcome.
Austin Sales Market Stats - Feb 2009

12 thoughts on “Austin Real Estate Market – Feb 2009 Update”

  1. Sylvia/Steve

    You two do such a great job with your blog! Keep up the great work…the expired data sure is interesting. And I hope all of my grads are looking at the inventory supply instead of average DOM when they fill out the term in their listing agreements.

  2. First of all, thanks Steve for your great work. If I didn’t have a contract with a Realtor, you definitely would be in my very short list.

    The increase in Average Price and Median Price of the sold houses does not mean that the value of the average house increased. Let me be more specific. If you get 50 houses and recorded their value one year ago and see the same houses now, I would say that very likely most of them have their value decreased. And, at the same time, we do have increase in Average Price of the houses sold!
    Looking at the number from January and February/2009 we have a very good example. I would do it against Feb/2008 if I had such numbers.
    (I hope my table keeps the format)

    Homes Sold. Jan/2009 vs Feb/2009
    # Jan % Jan # Feb % Feb
    $149,999 or under 266 34.55% 273 27.60%
    $150,000 – $199,999 173 22.47% 241 24.37%
    $200,000 – $249,999 104 13.51% 145 14.66%
    $250,000 – $299,999 60 7.79% 115 11.63%
    $300,000 – $349,999 61 7.92% 53 5.36%
    $350,000 – $399,999 32 4.16% 48 4.85%
    $400,000 – $449,999 23 2.99% 27 2.73%
    $450,000 – $499,999 8 1.04% 21 2.12%
    $500,000 – $549,999 8 1.04% 15 1.52%
    $550,000 – $599,999 8 1.04% 8 0.81%
    $600,000 – $699,999 10 1.30% 19 1.92%
    $700,000 – $799,999 6 0.78% 5 0.51%
    $800,000 – $899,999 2 0.26% 4 0.40%
    $900,000 – $999,999 1 0.13% 1 0.10%
    $1,000,000 or over 8 1.04% 14 1.42%
    Total 770 989

    It is easy to see why Feb/2009 has higher Average and Median Price compared to Jan/2009. The percentage of houses below $150K is lower in Feb (27.6% vs. 34.55%) and for most of the values above $250K, Feb has higher percentage.
    So, that does not mean that most of the houses (on average) increased their price. It happened that we have more expensive houses being sold compared to previous month.
    Usually the average of a big population is a good estimate of the average individual but it does not apply here. Why? Because we are not evaluating *all* the houses and taking its average. We are taking the average only of the houses that were sold. If, for any reason, we have more expensive houses sold, then its average will not express the real average of the value of the houses.

    Another point is to look at SqFt of the houses sold. It is a good hint that more expensive houses were sold in Feb/2009.

  3. Larry, you’re right. Macro stats do not inform us of how a particular home might do on the market. Even when we do area breakdowns, there are homes within an area that will do better or worse. What we are able to observe though is the general tendancy of a market, a sort of snapshot, and use that as just one piece of information when assessing the values of individual homes.

    Jason – this is a great market for your attendees to be in, ain’t it? If agent can “get it”, and gain traction in a soft market, that will do great when things turn around.

    Shireen – yes, 13 months is too much inventory. This is the hardest thing to get sellers to understand, which is the high likelihood their home won’t be chosen by the market if it’s not really, really attractive in condition and price.

    New Austin – I do the area breakdowns every quarter. The most recent was in Jan for the entire 2007/2008. You can find area 1b stats there. For 2008, 1B was down about 1% on avg sold, 7% on median sold, but up 3% on avg price per sqft sold. We have a 4/2 house, 1500 sqft in 1B listed for $475K, which would have been snapped up in a heartbeat a couple of years ago but at present it receives few showings. We’re either going to have to drop the price or lease it for another year or two.


  4. Steve,

    Great work, much appreciated and if I did not already have a Realtor you would be high on my list. These numbers look great to me as a buyer, I think they may give some false hope to sellers who will start putting some of those failed sales back on the market. That along with the usual upsurge in listings heading into summer should give me lots to pick through in a month or two.

    As a buyer I see this helping me as the numbers will not force people waiting to buy to jump in, the same people that have to buy will but it will definitely give false hope to some of those 50% expired listings to re-list which will just add inventory. On an insanity scale as I am not a Realtor, does this seem plausible?

  5. Do you have the data by Zip Code or other area splitout. I think that would be very tellilng.

    Thanks for the good data here.

    Bob V

  6. Hi Bob,

    The most recent area breakdowns are in the December sales market update. I run the area breakdowns every quarter. It takes a while to compile them so I can’t do it every month.

    http ://


  7. Speaking of my subdivision in Cedar Park, I see the activity is picking up but the asking prices are significantly lower compare to the last year. Another observation is some families are moving back to the state where they came from couple years ago, mostly California. Quite a few houses are ending to be a shortsale but fail to be sold even at the highly reduced prices. The inventory of houses for sale is higher than I’ve ever seen in my area

  8. I know it is a serious subject but I find it funny that about a month ago I expressed my faith in the Austin market and was basically politely panned by a few what I call ‘vulture’ buyers who must have spent many hours creating and publicizing (of course) theoretical justifications for why they expect to be able to go and swoop up Austin property for pennies on the dollar pretty soon. I continue to have complete confidence that the Austin depth of winter mini down tick was way overdone and that sellers would rather up the list price and wait it out in our version of paradise rather than move away. I know several sellers that are indeed increasing their asking prices at this time given the indications that things are moving. My advice is that you will miss the boat (again maybe for some) if you wait to buy Austin real estate ship at this time. Credit is starting to flow and spring will move things along more rapidly.


Leave a Comment