Austin Real Estate Market Update – May 2009 Stats

The Austin real estate market continues to chug along in a manner that would be considered unimpressive if not for the fact that it was expected to be doing so much worse by so many. Average sold prices are down about 3.5% and the Median is down about 2.25%. We’ll take take that. I’m not complaining.

Austin Real Estate Sales Market Update May 2009
Houses only (condos, duplexes, etc. not included) compiled from Austin MLS data

Apr 2009 May 2009 May 2008 Yr % Change
# Sold 1522 1610 2060 -21.84%
Avg List $245,130 $268,001 $274,380 -2.32%
Med List $198,170 $199,970 $203,037 -1.51%
Avg Sold $234,444 $256,603 $265,878 -3.49%
Med Sold $190,000 $195,250 $199,788 -2.27%
Sold/List % 95.64% 95.75% 96.90% -1.19%
Avg SQFT 2136 2208 2154 2.51%
Med SQFT 1950 1989 1945 2.26%
Avg $ SQFT $109.76 $116.22 $123.43 -5.85%
Avg DOM 74 75 61 22.95%
Median DOM 44 43 36 19.44%
# Expired 391 383 516 -25.78%
# Withdrawn 648 590 598 -1.34%
Not Sold 1039 973 1114 -12.66%
Not Sold % 40.57% 37.67% 35.10% 7.33%

One interesting thing to note is that the “Not Solds” have dipped down to 38%, barely higher than the 35% for the same month last year. This is the first time the Pending/Withdrawn listings (not solds) have been less than 40% of the total departing Austin MLS listings since June 2008, when they represented 37% of the departing listings. We hit 61% in Jan 2009 and 62% in Nov 2008, which meant a lot of sales efforts were ending in failure last fall and winter, but things have improved a lot since then.

Personally, Sylvia and I have 6 closings this month and we are really, really busy. It’s starting to feel like 2006/2007, but the numbers don’t look like 2006/2007. We’re running really fast on our hamster wheel, but putting together transactions that stick is as hard as ever.

Below is the Year to Date (YTD) chart for Austin, followed by several other charts and graphs that will bring you up to date on current conditions in the Austin real estate market.

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

Jan-May 09 Jan-May 08 Yr % Change
# Sold 6380 8543 -25.32%
Avg List $253,916 $258,631 -1.82%
Med List $196,700 $196,900 -0.10%
Avg Sold $241,784 $248,921 -2.87%
Med Sold $189,900 $190,000 -0.05%
Sold/List % 95.22% 96.25% -1.06%
Avg SQFT 2177 2131 2.16%
Med SQFT 1974 1936 1.96%
Avg $ SQFT $111.06 $116.81 -4.92%
Avg DOM 79 67 17.91%
Median DOM 53 44 20.45%
# Expired 2152 2676 -19.58%
# Withdrawn 3138 2808 11.75%
Not Sold 5290 5484 -3.54%
Not Sold % 45% 39% 15.95%

Year to date, as indicated in the chart above, the average sold price in Austin is down about 3%. This has been fairly steady all year. The median sold price is staying about even with last year. The Not Solds is 45% YTD for 2009 compared to 39% at the same point in time last year, but I expect that will continue to improve as we move through the year.

Below is a breakdown of May sales in Austin by price range. The MIO column on the right indicates Months of Inventory based on the sales rate of the previous 3 months. There are different ways to calculate this supply metric. Some use the past 12 months of sale to obtain the average number of sold per month, but here I use the past three months because I think it’s a more accurate reflection of current market demand.

Price Range Sold DOM Active MOI
$149,999 or under 429 60 1585 3.59
$150,000 – $199,999 395 59 1644 4.55
$200,000 – $249,999 231 79 1120 5.08
$250,000 – $299,999 169 97 1022 7.02
$300,000 – $349,999 100 79 713 7.86
$350,000 – $399,999 86 100 699 10.03
$400,000 – $449,999 43 74 441 9.25
$450,000 – $499,999 36 105 434 13.85
$500,000 – $549,999 30 102 261 12.23
$550,000 – $599,999 10 106 270 23.82
$600,000 – $699,999 32 82 401 19.40
$700,000 – $799,999 9 111 243 22.09
$800,000 – $899,999 8 83 205 30.75
$900,000 – $999,999 6 77 126 18.00
$1,000,000 or over 20 199 625 46.88

Based on chart above, homes in Austin that sell for less than $200K are experiencing strong demand. I experienced that firsthand last month as we sent in an offer on a home less than 3 hours after it came on the market and it had multiple offers that night. It was priced below $150K, which at 3.59 months of inventory, is a seller’s market. Homes priced at $350K and above remain in a buyer’s market, and the buyer’s market gets better as you move up in price range.

Next, below is a chart I’ve been playing with the past few months. It started as a “past 12 months” graph just to show the wild swings we’ve had in the Austin market, but since then I’ve just been tacking on the succeeding months. For May 2009, the market took another wild swing upward from the month before, jumping again above $250K for average sold price, somewhat making up for staying in a downswing for two months in a row. The Median value is flirting with $200K again.

Austin Real Estate Sales Last 15 Months thru  May 2009

Finally we have the historic sales chart for Austin, going back to 1999 through May 2009.

Austin Sales Market Graph 1999 through May 2009

Real estate markets have to be kept in perspective. If one were to draw a line from 2004 to where we are now in the above graph, nobody would call that a bad run. Since we had a bit of a surge in 2006/2007, the current market seems weak by comparison, but it’s really not. In fact, Austin is doing very well compared to almost any other real estate market in the U.S.

Interest rates are still great, inventory is good, the government is giving free money to buyers who haven’t owned in the past three years, and Austin keeps getting mentioned in all of the affordable city lists and great places to live lists.

If the stars could be aligned any better for an Austin buyer, I’d like to know what that would look like. For sellers with homes valued at $350K or more, it’s not exactly the best time to sell, but you can still find a buyer if you are motivated.

As usual, questions and comments welcome. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Crossland Team Austin Real Estate Blog so you can stay on top of the Austin Real Estate Market every month.

4 thoughts on “Austin Real Estate Market Update – May 2009 Stats”

  1. Steve,

    What if a couple lives in a house but one spouse is not on the deed . Is he/she eligible for this “up to $8K first-time home buyer tax credit” if he/she will go and buy a second house for his/her name and claim it as a primary residence?

  2. > What if a couple lives in a house but one spouse is not on the deed

    If the second person is not on the deed and is actually going to occupy the second house as a primary residence, I suppose trhat might fly. It’s tinkering on the edges of loan fraud though, if it’s a married couple, but it might be technically allowable if the second home is indeed to be occupied by the purchaser.


  3. > If the stars could be aligned any better for an Austin buyer, I’d like to know what that would look like.

    Let’s start with say, unemployment trending negative for half of the metro areas y-o-y, instead of positive across *all* areas.

    Would it be too much to ask the absolute unemployment rate in the Austin-Round Rock metro area to be somewhat closer to the “natural” rate of around 2-5% (depending upon who you ask, 2% is natural if the boom years were normal to you, 5% is natural otherwise)? The second derivative of unemployment in the metro area is negative, but it is too early to tell if that delta is just seasonality or an actual secular trend that will bring us back to par with 2008 y-o-y.

    Let’s not even delve too deeply into the troubling future trends for most families’ balance sheets, like increasing energy costs (a passage of cap and trade will pretty much guarantee this, even without inflation-fear-stoked commodity price pushing factored in), property taxes as public employee pensions are forced to start to face the music, and continuing escalation of health care costs as demographics start changing.

    Some of the big Austin high-tech employers are accelerating their offshoring projects. I’ve had engineers from different Austin companies approach me about jobs because they fear they are training their replacements. Law firm billings are abnormally down, and construction trade contractors are bidding on gigs far out of town to stay afloat. We haven’t even seen the effects of Option ARM and Alt-A securitizations having to face the music yet; one afternoon with a Bloomie pulling up the default rates on the majority of those tranches will telegraph for you what will happen in a year or so.

    We are in the calm before the tsunami wave hits. Unless one has a very strong cash position, and even then it might not be sufficient for a new mortgage scenario for one’s personal balance sheet, buying here is picking up the fish on the sea bed left exposed by the retreating waters drawn back by the tidal wave. The bond and FX markets are telling us to keep watching instead of buying at this point, and I expect the residential real estate market will only keep pricing much lower over the next 12-18 months in Austin.

    I’m sure Steve and Sylvia will do well, as they seem careful, conservative players. Their mettle will be tested, and some of their less-observant colleagues in the RE industry will be much worse off, as we are far, far from the bottom yet, folks. “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.”

  4. Hi Steve,

    I came across a comment posted by you on another website and figured I’d try and reach you here. Just returned from my first trip to Austin and came away pleasantly surprised. Had heard all the write up about how it’s a great place to live so figured I’d visit and check it out for myself.

    I’m not a techie at all – even though I met some people who work for Dell and a spinoff of Motorola – but have a startup catering company. It would nice to relocate and buy a home (condo or house), but I’m a startup and I have minimal W-2 income to report. You indicate that there will be a shortage of housing in 2-3 years.

    Does this take into account Southeast Austin which I understand is ripe for development?


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