Home sales are as hot as ever in the Austin area, and national trends continue to show improvement as we head into the heart of summer. Those positive trends have continued despite relatively weak employment figures and some global uncertainty created by Britain leaving the European Union.
But housing prices in the Austin area are making it tough for most buyers to find a home, especially first-time buyers. That’s one of the big reasons local real estate groups have been pushing the city to adopt a wide-ranging set of development guidelines that could have provide more affordable housing options.
In the meantime, housing sales have been the hottest in Williamson County, just north of Austin. For many buyers, the area has more affordable options while still being relatively close to many of the area’s biggest employers, including Dell and Apple.
Here’s a look at all the most important real estate news from the month of June.
Home Sales Hit 9-Year High
The economy may feel shaky with a slowdown in job growth and Britain’s exit from the European Union. But housing sales have been a bright spot that shows the U.S. economy is stable. Home resales climbed by 1.8 percent to the highest level seen in the country since February 2007. About 5.5 million homes sold last month. Demand is outpacing supply, which helped push prices up 4.7 percent from last year to a median of $239,700, The National Association of Realtors reported.
Rent Prices Climb Rapidly Nationwide
We’ve now seen two months in a row where the increase in rental prices has easily outpaced the inflation rate. The annual rent increase is about 4 percent, compared to the 1 percent inflation rate. That’s making it tougher for more families to save and eventually buy a home. Nationally, CNBC reports, more high-end homes have been coming on the market. Meanwhile, fewer starter homes have been on the market. That means a lot of people keep renting.
Austin Area Home Sales Surge, Especially Outside of Austin
Austin area home sales climbed by nearly 10 percent in May, compared to May 2015 figures. The median price in the metro area hit $288,085. But perhaps the most notable outcome, according to the Austin Board of Realtors, was that sales in Williamson County are inching closer to matching the number of sales in Travis County, which has more than double the population. It’s all about the price. While the median in the greater Austin area is $288,085, a median price home inside Austin city limits is $355,000, which is 1.6 percent higher than what it was last May. (Read the full report in our blog.)
Housing and Business Organizations Pressure City on Land Development Code
Things often move slowly at city hall. And the City of Austin’s CodeNEXT project, which aims to update the city’s land development code, has been one of those slow-moving projects. It’s more than a year late in its release. Now a big group of real estate and business organizations has formed a coalition to call on the city to speed up new policies aimed at providing housing affordability and more certainty for developers. The group includes the Austin Apartment Association, Austin Board of Realtors, Austin Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Austin Alliance, Evolve Austin, Home Builders Association and the Real Estate Council of Austin.
Austin’s Commercial Office Space Boom
Austin’s status as a tech hub continues to draw huge employers to the area. Google, Apple and Facebook have all expanded operations in the city. Those types of expansions have helped the city’s office space boom from 22 million square feet in 1990 to more than 45 million square feet now. And, with all those cranes on the skyline building new high rises, the city is poised to add another 2.1 million square feet by next year, according to a report by National Real Estate Investor.
Even Bigger Money Heads to Hill Country
All you have to do is driver around Hill Country and see the magnificent homes to recognize affluent buyers love the area. The Wall Street Journal reports that it has become a top choice destination for affluent buyers coming from Dallas, Houston and other big metro areas. Many are just buying the land and leaving it undeveloped. That keeps the rugged feel and helps the owners get property tax breaks.