Austin’s December Real Estate News Roundup

Austin area real estate ended 2014 on a mixed note.

On one hand, the city set new records for the number of homes sold in November — and a few other months in 2014 — and

Austin’s economic growth continues to attract international attention.

On the other hand, concerns continue to be raised about the rapidly rising cost of homes — which also set records for November and several other months in 2014. Meanwhile, New York-based financial analysts Fitch Ratings joined in labeling Austin one of the nation’s most over-priced real estate markets.

Although local real estate experts say that Austin is not facing a real estate bubble, the debate seems to be getting more attention.

Those stories top the Austin area’s December news roundup.

— Fitch reported that Austin is the most overvalued real estate market in the nation: The company says Austin is 20 percent overvalued, citing falling oil prices among other factors. But, the Austin American-Statesman reported, Jim Gains, an economist at the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University said he doesn’t believe Austin is overvalued.

— While some see trouble ahead for the Austin housing market, most local economists and business leaders see continued growth for the region. Here’s the take in a recent Austin American-Statesman column.

– “All indications — job and population growth, housing starts, home sales, price appreciation, and a low supply of homes relative to high demand — point to a very strong and robust housing market” with no signs of slowing in the near future, said Eldon Rude, a local housing market analyst who is principal of 360 Real Estate Analytics, an Austin-based market research and consulting firm.”

— Everyone is breaking out their wish lists for the upcoming Texas Legislature. Lobbyists are staking out their talking points. And the real estate industry has a robust presence. The Austin Business Journal reported that a coalition of real estate and business interest organizations are fighting any proposals for mandatory reporting of property sales prices. The issue has come up in the past as some appraisers request mandatory sales price disclosure to help improve property valuations. Now the increasing cost of property taxes are in the fray, with some claiming greatly undervalued commercial properties are creating pressure for residential rates.

An interesting analysis in a Washington Post blog contends that changing the list price of a home by as a little as $1 can greatly impact how quickly it will sell. In essence, it’s the old $99 sounds cheaper than $100 scenario. “A study published in the Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics found that sellers who use the “just below” pricing strategy get more money for their homes than those who don’t. In fact, they get, on average, almost 2 percent more, which is quite a bit on a house worth a few hundred thousand dollars,” The Post reported.

— That’s a lot of mansions. The Austin Business Journal reported that Austin has more than 500 homes priced above $1 million on the market.

— That prime plot of land at 45th Street and Bull Creek in north-central Austin may finally be settled. After years of vacancy under state management, it’s poised to sell to Milestone Community Builders, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Their $46.7 million bid beat out several other bidders. The company said it doesn’t have any specific plans for the land yet.

— Real Savvy unveiled its new application “designed to enable brokers and their clients to collaborate,” according to the Austin Business Journal. “During a home search, brokers and clients collect and share different images and information about prospective buys or house features,” the company’s CEO told the Business Journal.