Austin’s rapidly rising population and growing traffic problems have been a hot subject lately. The annual South by Southwest Festival and the massive crowds it attracts to the city was a reminder that sustainable growth is an important issue to keep at the forefront.
The Austin Board of REALTORS® (ABoR) recently released their latest housing market statistics. In it, 2016 ABoR President Aaron Farmer warns that, “The challenges facing our region’s infrastructure are approaching critical mass. Austin-area residents are relocating farther and farther outside of Austin due to affordability issues and yet are spending more and more time stuck in traffic each year. With the rate our region’s population is growing, this is simply not sustainable.”
Many Austin residents are choosing to move outside of Austin proper in search of more affordable home prices, as well as relief from the crowds in the city. Suburbs like Leander, Cedar Park, Round Rock, Georgetown, Buda and Del Valle are experiencing massive growths over the past few years. Williamson county's housing market has been hot for some time now, with the median price for single-family homes continuing to rise. In February 2016 the median price went up 4% to $244,950, and 4% more single-family homes sold than the same month last year.
The greater Austin area’s median home price rose 8% to $269,900 while home prices within Austin’s actual city limits rose 14% to $334,950. Even with the massive difference in median home price, 6% more single-family homes sold within Austin’s city limits than this time last year. While this is pricing some buyers out of Austin proper, it’s great news for those who have already bought property in the area. Appreciation and rental prices are proving to be a great investment as our job market, and economy remain strong.
The atmosphere remains competitive amongst buyers, with Austin-area housing inventory sitting at around two months and Austin proper even lower at 1.6 months. Keep in mind that the Texas A&M Real Estate Center cites 6.5 months as a balanced market. Despite the competition and rising prices, Austin area homes sold 11% more total dollar volume than the same time last year.
Sellers are continuing to cash in on the on the influx of people moving to Austin, and new listings increased by 11.1 percent to 2,793 listings in February 2016. Active listings increased by 10 percent year-over-year reaching 4,871 listings. While it’s encouraging to see an increase in new listings, it’s not enough to balance our market with the massive amount of people moving here every day.
As for the traffic problem, ABoR’s Transportation Policy Team monitors main mobility initiatives in Central Texas. Projects like the MoPac Improvement Project and the Mobility 20/20 Solution are just a few of the items underway.
“The Austin Board of REALTORS® is glad to see Mayor Adler’s regional approach to solving the Austin area’s growing transportation challenges through the Mobility 20/20 Solution,” continues Aaron Farmer. “Our region needs a variety of multi-modal transit solutions for our infrastructure to sustain future growth and it’s going to take collaboration between Austin leadership and surrounding cities to make that a reality.”