Rising home sales throughout Central Texas highlight growing urban sprawl, Austin affordability challenges
May 19, 2016 – Single-family home sales increased in the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) in April 2016, highlighting growing urban sprawl as rising housing costs exacerbate affordability challenges, according to the April 2016 Central Texas Housing Market Report released today by the Austin Board of REALTORS®.
“Much of Central Texas’ home sales activity is now taking place outside of Austin’s city limits, with housing demand driving growth in surrounding counties,” said Aaron Farmer, 2016 President of the Austin Board of REALTORS®. “The City of Austin’s housing market is drastically different than surrounding areas. In Austin, home sales growth is suppressed, inventory is more constrained and home prices are much higher.”
In April 2016, single-family home sales increased 12.5 percent year-over-year to 3,863 home sales in the Central Texas region. Nearly 80 percent of those homes were sold outside of Austin’s city limits. In the five-county MSA, single-family home sales rose 5.1 percent year-over-year to 2,600 home sales during the same time frame.
Hays County experienced the largest annual gain in home sales in April 2016, with single-family home sales jumping 17.8 percent year-over-year to 338 home sales. Williamson County was the only county in the Austin-Round Rock MSA to experience a decline in home sales in April 2016, with single-family home sales dropping 5.1 percent year-over-year to 816 home sales.
In the City of Austin, single-family home sales held steady at 829 home sales, a 1.7 percent increase from April 2015 and nearly equivalent to the home sales volume in all of Williamson County in April 2016.
“Hays County is one of Austin’s few surrounding areas with entry-level homes priced less than $200,000, a price point with high demand,” said Mark Sprague, State Director of Information Capital for Independence Title. “In Williamson County, demand is highest for homes priced between $200,000 and $400,000, but there is not sufficient housing stock to meet demand, particularly in Round Rock and Pflugerville.”
The rate of growing home prices also slowed in Williamson County in April 2016, with the median price for single-family homes increasing only two percent year-over-year to $255,000. Conversely, the median price in Travis County increased 7.8 percent from April 2015 to $339,500, while median price within the City of Austin jumped 10.6 percent during the same time frame to $359,450.
Despite small gains across the region in April 2016, monthly housing inventory in the Austin-Round Rock MSA remained low at 2.3 months. This is nearly two-thirds less than the 6.5 month-level the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University cites as a market in which supply and demand for homes is balanced. In Austin, housing inventory remained at near-critical levels of 1.8 months, an increase of 0.3 months from April 2015.
“Housing affordability includes not only a home’s sale price, but the homeowner’s ability to continue to afford the home as property values rise from year to year,” concluded Farmer. “The Austin Board of REALTORS® encourages homeowners to learn how their home is being appraised and all property tax exemptions they might qualify for. A Central Texas REALTOR® can help homeowners contest their assessment by identifying comparable properties and gathering the necessary background information to formulate an appeal.”