The number of residential home sales in Austin continued to fall off for September. Even record low interest rates are not enough to motivate buyers. Most buyers who really need to buy already did so earlier this year. Looks like everyone else is hunkering down and waiting.
Let’s start with the year to date stats.
|Austin Real Estate Market Year to Date Jan-Sep 2010|
|Homes only (no condos, duplexes, etc) – Data from Austin MLS|
|Jan-Sep 10||Jan-Sep 09||Yr % Change|
|Avg $ SQFT||$115.67||$112.38||2.93%|
|Not Sold %||44.91%||42.58%||5.47%|
I start with the YTD stats because it’s easier to put the September stats into context if we first look at the first 3 quarters compared to the same 9 months a year ago. What we see above is that the number of sales for 2010 overall is just slightly below the same period a year ago. Hidden in the figures is the fact that much of 2010 was front loaded to the earlier part of the year due to the tax credit that drew first time buyers into the market earlier than they would have otherwise entered.
We see that the average and median sold prices are up year to date, but so is the number of failed sales listings (expired and withdrawn). Days on market is down to 69 average from 75 a year ago. This is counter-intuitive when viewed with the higher “not solds”, but is a reflection of a bifurcated market in which some homes sell quickly to waiting buyers and other languish, often without more than a few scattered showings. This is frustrating for sellers and agents as our margin of error in setting list prices is higher than normal because of the unpredictability of the market.
Let’s see what happened in Sept 2010 compared to Sept 2009.
|Austin Real Estate Market – Monthly Update Sep 2010|
|Homes only (condos, duplexes, etc. not included) compiled from Austin MLS data|
|Aug 2010||Sep 2010||Sep 2009||Yr % Change|
|Avg $ SQFT||$117.94||$113.14||$113.85||-0.63%|
|Not Sold %||55.09%||58.83%||43.42%||35.49%|
Let’s start at the bottom of the middle row with the 59% “Not Sold” figure. This is a reflection of the strong headwind we are seeing. We simply don’t have enough buyers to buy the number of homes on the market, and most sellers are giving up instead of dropping prices. The number of homes sold is down 29% from the same month last year. That’s a huge drop month over month and a reflection of the pulling forward of so many buyers to spring 2010. In short, this is a tax credit hangover.
Meanwhile, sold values are up as we see a combination of higher end sales going to bargain hunters and the lower end dropping out somewhat, from lack of buyer demand. From the YTD chart above remember that Days on Market is down overall for 2010, but for Sept 2010, DOM is up from last year and last month. Homes are sitting longer.
Sylvia and I just placed two new listings on the market in the past week. To those sellers, and others we talk to who are thinking about it, we have to confess not knowing whether their house will be chosen quickly or if there will be a long wait. Yes, we can look at inventory and absorption rates, Pending/Active ratios, and other stats, but those stats don’t predict market behavior as reliably as in the past. For most sellers we talk to, unless circumstances dictate selling now, we advise waiting. If you can’t wait, you have to realistically be prepared to be patient, flexible or both.
Let’s take a graphical look at price behavior. First the graph showing Austin real estate sold values from 1999 through end of Sept 2010.
If we were to view the Austin real estate market solely in terms of price direction, this above graph paints a hopeful picture. Of course there are many homes currently selling for below the 2007 value, some substantially below. Nevertheless, the overall price direction does not appear to be heading down.
Next, the price swings of the past 31 months.
This chart illustrates the monthly swings we see in values. In general, what I look for is when or if we’re going to break out from the range we’ve been bouncing up and down within.Looks like we’re trying to do that, but we’ll really need to wait and see what the market looks like as we head into the spring.
Finally, the Pending Sales chart, which shows the number of accepted contracts each month.
I keep this running graph each month to illustrate what the tax credit did our market activity in April and May of this year (green line on graph). The trend is heading toward a normalized state compared to the previous 3 years though, so I’m hopeful that we’ll start 2011 from a “normal” starting point relative to years past.
I’ll be posting some segmented stats next, broken down by areas and some other factors to see if we can find any clear patterns in the market.
As usual, comments and questions are welcome.