The U.S. real estate market has had a relatively weak late spring season, with a slowdown in residential sales and new construction. The sale of new homes was down 1.5 percent in April, according to the latest reports. Meanwhile, housing starts fell by 3.7 percent.
But national trends often seem to contradict local ones. In Austin, for example, residential home sales increased 7.4 percent year-over-year in April. And many other parts of the country have seen similar growth.
We’ve gathered some of the most interesting real estate stories for you to browse, including one about the most active ZIP codes in the Austin real estate market and another about a man-made floating island that might govern itself.
Learn about that and more in our May real estate news roundup.
Want to Get Away From It All?
In some states, casinos are only allowed to operate if they’re floating on water. Well, maybe the idea can be taken further. A new “floating island project” by Blue Frontiers and Seasteading Institute has created a partnership with the French Polynesian government to build 300 homes on a island that is self-governed and uses cryptocurrency for commerce, CNBC reported. It may sound like sci-fi, but the first island is expected to be done by 2022.
Austin Area Home Sales Climbing
The median price of a home inside Austin city limits climbed 9.3 percent year-over-year to $390,000. Meanwhile, sales increased 7.4 percent year-over-year in April — or 859 closed deals. In short, there’s a smaller number of active listings and an increasingly competitive market for homebuyers, the Austin Board of Realtors reported. Looked at from a different perspective, the average sales price of a home in Austin has increased from $372,492 in 2017 to $378.907 in the most recent 12 months. Meanwhile, the number of homes sold climbed from 30,572 in 2017 to 30,980 in the past 12 months.
Where Austin’s Real Estate Market is Hottest
All of Austin’s ZIP codes are in demand. But there are a few locales that stand out amongst the rest when it comes to the pace of home sales and real estate activity. One of the city’s most celebrated ZIP codes, 78704, sometimes endearingly called the “04,” is the most active housing market in the city, according to the Austin Business Journal’s most recent analysis. During the first three months of this year, the neighborhood, just south of Lady Bird Lake, logged nearly 200 sales at a median price of $511,275. Those homes spent an average of 68 days on the market. The next most active ZIP codes were 78745 and 78749 in South Austin, followed by 78613 in Cedar Park.
Go Big and Go Home
Texas is known for all things big. And, of all of the state’s amazing cities, it is perhaps Dallas that best represents that larger than life vibe. It’s fitting, then, that the largest custom-built home in the U.S. would be built in the Metroplex following an oil boom in the early 1980s. At the time, it was compared to Shangri-La, the Dallas Business Journal reports. But now, following a series of major renovations in the past decade, it is back on the market. The eight-bedroom, 18,288-square-foot home is now available for $13 million.
A Makeover for American Malls
With Amazon eating many retailers’ lunch, America’s once booming shopping malls are now being repurposed for a variety of uses. In Austin, Highland Mall has been transformed into a community college campus and housing development. And that’s just one example. CNBC reports that big department stores like Sears and J.C. Penny are abandoning malls and creating opportunities for new hotels and housing developments. Mall owner Simon reportedly plans to open five Marriott hotels at its malls in coming years. PREIT, meanwhile, wants to transform malls in the Northeast with apartments and hotels.