The August 2017 Real Estate News Roundup

It’s been a rocky month of real estate news. While Austin saw a few signs of improved home inventory, prices in the city and across the nation continued to climb and make it tougher for first-time buyers to find affordable homes.

As July’s statistics poured in throughout the month of August, all signs pointed toward a shortage of lower-priced homes. Meanwhile, sales of $1 million-plus properties climbed by about 20 percent. The good news in Austin is that new building permits have surged in 2017, indicating a lot of new homes will come into the market in coming months to ease demand.

Meanwhile, there were plenty of other interesting real estate developments in August, including the planned sale of a 2,382-acre slice of prime Hill Country real estate that is currently owned by the Boy Scouts. It has a bunch of frontage on the Blanco River, and everyone from developers to conservationists are vying to buy it at a list price of $24.5 million.

Another notable property also hit the market in August. That’s the $12 million Italian villa that the founder of Carrabba’s Italian Grill has put on the market. It’s as amazing as you’re probably thinking.

Now, let’s dig into the August real estate news roundup.

Austin’s Housing Inventory Improved as Prices Climb

The Austin area housing market posted higher inventory levels than usual in July, giving the city a nice trend shift in favor of home buyers. Meanwhile, single-family home sales in the Austin metro area climbed 2.8 percent from July 2016 to 2,892 homes sold. Inside the city of Austin, the pace of sales cooled slightly from a year ago, with a 2.5 percent decrease that highlights the lack of affordable homes in the city’s core. For example, the average sale price in the metro area has climbed to $368,478 — up from about $366,000 a year ago. That’s an increase of about 6 percent per square foot. Get the full rundown of the July real estate report here.

U.S. Home Sales Slump

After a few months of positive trends, the U.S. housing market had an unexpected decline in July. Sales of newly-built and existing homes fell as home prices continued to climb. The problem boils down to the scarcity of affordable homes. The median price of a home in the U.S. climbed to $258,300 in July. That’s a record high for the month, CNBC reported. Meanwhile, sales of homes priced at $1 million or more climbed almost 20 percent.

Land Rush in Hill Country

A picturesque former Boy Scout camp is up for sale, and everyone wants a piece of it. The 2,382-acre site nestled in the heart of Hill Country southwest of Austin is on the market for $24.5 million. The Austin Business Journal reported interest buyers include recreational buyers, investors, conservationists and developers. It’s a beautiful stretch of land along the Edwards Plateau west of San Marcos, and it has more than a mile of frontage along both sides of the Blanco River. But, don’t worry, the Boy Scouts will have a new camp. They’re replacing El Rancho Cima with a new camp in Sam Houston National Forest. It will be even bigger.

Foreigners Spending More Than Ever On American Homes

Foreign buyers and recent immigrants spent $153 billion on U.S. properties from March 2016 to March 201, a new National Association of Realtors report said. That’s a 49 percent increase from a year before. That’s 10 percent of all existing home sales. Roughly half the properties are being bought by recent immigrants — the other half by foreigners. And most were Chinese or Canadian. Where are they buying? Texas, California and Florida top the list.

Austin Loses Beloved Architect

Dick Clark, one of the Austin area’s most well-known architects and one who has left his mark across the city, died of complications of leukemia on Aug. 7, the Austin Business Journal reported. He was 72. His work can be seen in the South Congress Hotel, which has been noted for its adoption of Austin’s unique vibe. And he and his company, Dick Clark + Associates, designed an affordable housing development called Capital Studios that has also been lauded in several publications.

Austin Tops List of Cities With Building Booms

If you look at building permits pulled in 2017, Austin has shown remarkable growth. The city has recorded a 107 percent increase from historical averages. That’s a ton of new building. And it’s easy to see as dozens of new homes fill in remaining slices of urban turf and sprawling new developments crop up on the city’s fringes. A New York Times analysis shows Austin is building at a clip far above its closest competitor — Charleston, which logged a 72 percent increase from historic averages. Going down the list, Nashville, Philadelphia, Boston, Dallas and Denver are all booming. On the other end of the list, Honolulu, Daytona Beach and Kenosha County, Wisconsin are all seeing major declines.

Get Your Own Italian Villa

Ever wonder how a famous Italian restaurateur might live? Here’s your chance. Damian Mandola, co-founder of Carrabba’s Italian Grill and owner of Mandola’s Italian Market, is moving to Italy with his wife and has put his Austin area home on the market. The 323-acre Villa Antichita is located in Driftwood, and it has an asking price of $12 million, the Austin Business Journal reported. That includes an 8,800 square foot house, two secondary homes and a pool and spa. Sound nice? It also includes 60 antiques, and, of course, an amazing kitchen and stone pizza oven.