Austin continues to see a high level of demand for properties that have; 1. the location with immediate proximity to popular desitinations and parkland areas, 2. the features (landscape, stone countertops, hard flooring materiels, recent appliances, energy saving features) and a 3. a functional floorplan design. While many properties sit on the market forever, these particular homes rate high on the current buyers list. The prime location with the most suitable home is becoming more difficult to find as the economy begins to make headway and the inventory tightens a bit in the best locations. If you are inclined, it is a good time to begin the search for a home now. If you have specific expectations, and you wait too long, you may find yourself in a pinch having to make personal concessions even though recent numbers indicate there are fewer homes selling (allbeit at a fractionally higher average price).
The March 2011 closed sale numbers were down compared to that month in 2010, and properties are continuing to be cherry-picked. Some homes will sit in on the market for a long time only to have a one in the same area that backs to parkland come up and sell immediately for a higher price. Usually these special properties have a pent up demand with buyers just waiting for a chance to make a play. The same thing happens all the time in central Austin, particularly those that have an outstanding view…yes they sell for much more money. So the price on closein Austin properties remains stable or up …prices in outer-lying neighborhoods drop…and the average price stays about the same.
The data on the charts comes from the Austin Board of REALTORS Multiple Listing Service and it shows a significant reduction of existing inventory (currently at 6 months), drop in pending sales, the 32% drop in closed sales, and the increase of 27% in days on the market. Needless to say these numbers are less than what most sellers would like to see. The overall months inventory is right on the line at 6 months between a buyers and sellers market. I would say that it all depends on what location within Austin or the surrounding area you are considering. If you are buying in some parts of Hays or Williamson Counties its a full-on buyers market. If you are buying in 78704 or southwest Austin its more of a sellers market. The Circle C neighborhood has only 3 months of available inventory. There is a lot of condescending information out there, so don’t be confused by the numbers. Find a good REALTOR to help you get organized.
For sellers the good news is the level of overall inventory is dropping, actually down by more than 1,000 properties. This will help maintain a healthy market unless we see a surge of new listings in April. More than likely the inventory will climb back up over the next few months to a similar level that we’ve experienced the past couple years.
The affordability index shows that we are loosing some ground…probably as a result of overall reduction in pay for many Americans, coupled with interest rates that are on the increase. The Federal Reserve is discontinuing their policy of buying government bonds to keep the interest rates low, so it is likely we will see a further tightening of the credit markets…and rate increases.
The percentage of the list price received is going down. Not a sign that the overall market is particularly healthy.
You must draw your own conclusion when looking at the evidence to determine if this it the right time to make a move or not. Consider the particular market segment you intend to buy in rather than the overall market to be accurate. If you are buying in the outer residential bedroom communities, you are working with a strong buyers market. On the other hand if you are considering waterfront property on Lake Austin or one with a full-on view of downtown Austin, it is still somewhat of a sellers market simply because there are so few of these types of properties available and they are not easily/affordably replaced if at all.