The February 2018 Real Estate News Roundup

While the national home sales cooled significantly at the start of this year, Austin area markets are off to a strong start with an 8.5 percent year-over-year increase in January.

Those two trends have dominated the start of the year as the housing market shows problems providing enough affordable homes in many markets, especially in the northeast. But Austin’s continued tech job growth is fueling a lot of demand, pushing sales up even as prices rise.

Meanwhile, we’ve explored several other stories in this month’s real estate news roundup. That includes news about a well-known Austinite who bought the most expensive property ever sold in New York City, as well as news about Austin’s rapidly expanding commercial real estate market.

You’ll learn about that and more in our February real estate news roundup.

U.S. Home Sales Slip

The pace of existing home sales took an unexpected slide in January, dropping 4.8 percent year-over-year in January. It was the biggest setback for an otherwise solid market in the past three years, Curbed reported. It also represented the slowest overall month of sales activity since last September. The news was especially noteworthy after sales declined year-over-year in December, as well. New Census figures showed January was 7.8 percent down from December. The biggest declines were in the Northeast.

Austin’s Richest Resident Bought NYC’s Most Expensive Home

Michael Dell started his company in a dorm room. But he’s a long ways from that now. The multi-billionaire has sprawling estates in Austin, Hawaii and Boston. Now, the Wall Street Journal reports that Dell was the buyer of a $100 million duplex in a towering complex on Billionaire’s Row in New York City. That qualifies it as the most expensive home ever purchased in New York City. The record will likely be broken again in the not so distant future.

Sprawling Austin Property Offers a Bitcoin Discount

Austin’s Richard Garriott is known for many things. Traveling to the International Space Station. Founding multi-million dollar video games. And suggesting Austin adopt a pod travel system to alleviate traffic. More recently, he’s been in the news for putting his $45 million west Austin property up for sale. Now, Garriott says he’s offering a “significant discount” for anyone who makes an offer using bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that has increased significantly in value since last year. It’s a bit of a risky proposition for both sides as bitcoin values swing significantly.

It Takes 11 Years to Save Up for a Home in Austin

It’s a long path to homeownership if you’re starting from scratch in Austin. A new analysis by Zillow says it takes the average Austinite 11 years to save up for a 20 percent down payment on a typical home, the Austin Business Journal reported. But that’s nothing compared to San Jose, where someone with a $62,200 a year paycheck would need 30 years to save up for a median value home — $369,555.

Austin’s Commercial Office Market is Hot, Too

Investors see a lot of potential return on the money they’re pouring into commercial office space across Austin. A new study by Yardi Systems shows Austin is a top market for such investments in 2018. The analysis explored employment stats, lease rates and construction data. The city’s low vacancy rate, typically below 15 percent, and it’s low unemployment rate gave it a boost. “Tech jobs here actually grew four times faster than the national average and are expected to remain strong in 2018 as well,” the report said. Other top cities include Boston, San Francisco and Seattle.

Austin Home Sales Off to Strong Start

The pace of single-family home sales climbed by 8.5 percent year-over-year in January, new data from the Austin Board of Realtors show. It happened while prices continued their years-long upward climb. The median price of a home in the Austin-Round Rock MSA was $290,000 during the month. Meanwhile, inside Austin city limits, prices soared by 10.2 percent year-over-year, with a median price of $347,000.