The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) recently released their March 2016 report, and statistics confirm what most of us already know – Austin’s housing market is raging. Austin-area single-family homes sales increased another 9.3 percent to 2,552 home sales, compared to March 2015. The median single-family home prices also increased 7.8 percent year-over-year to $278,000.

With prices like this, it’s easy to see why city officials are becoming nervous about sustaining the cities affordability. “Housing affordability continues to be a growing problem,” said Seth Thompson, Broker at HomeCity Real Estate. “We are now seeing surrounding suburbs starting to be less affordable as prices are rising even further out from Austin's city center."

This problem is no longer isolated to first-time homeowners and low-income families, now longtime Austin residents are being priced out of their homes and unable to live close to their work or school. “The City of Austin’s ineffective code enforcement and land development code are immediate barriers to achieving more diverse, affordable housing options throughout our city,” said Aaron Farmer, 2016 President of the Austin Board of Realtors in their monthly report. “both by failing to preserve existing housing stock through proper code enforcement and restricting infill and further development where additional housing options are needed most.”

Even outlying suburbs such as Buda, Kyle, and Manor are becoming much more expensive. Hays County single-family home prices are up 6% from this time last year with a median of $242,500. Homes in the area are still selling, though, and home sales are up 7 percent from this time last year in Hays. “The city of Austin must collaborate to provide creative solutions for more affordable housing options and to grow the inventory of available properties,” said Seth Thompson.

Housing inventory in the Austin area dropped 0.2 months in March to 2 months inventory. This is well below the 6.5 months that the Texas A&M Real Estate Center cites as a balanced market. “Austin's real estate market is very competitive for buyers because of the lack of available inventory,” said Thompson. The lack of inventory isn’t deterring most homebuyers, and the number of homes sold each month is still growing (up 9 percent in March). “In many neighborhoods, there are few properties available for sale and in many cases there are several buyers making offers on the same house. We have seen buyers submit offers on more than ten homes without success and are still looking.”

Given these circumstances, it’s of paramount importance to align yourself with a real estate professional that has an extensive network of agents. Pocket listings, listings not yet in the MLS and therefore not visible to the majority of agents, are often the best way to gain an edge on the competition. This way, buyers can put in an offer on the house they love before most people even know it’s for sale. “My best advice is to hire a full-time Realtor early in the process,” said Seth Thompson. “We are seeing homes selling even before they are being listed in MLS. The only way to find those properties is through the connections that agents have within their brokerage or the local real estate community.”

Some brokerages, such as our own, have web pages specifically designated for pocket listings, as well as notification emails that alert you the second a pocket listing is for sale. If you’d like to learn more about pocket listings, you can read this article, check out our pocket listings, or you can ask your agent for their help in acquiring info about available pocket listings.