By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
Home sales in the Four Points area have been very strong so far this year compared to a year ago, and local sale prices have been outperforming the city of Austin, Travis County and the five-county area.
“There are currently a large number of buyers actively looking to buy, but just so little inventory to consider,” said Tom Radack, owner Bartlett Real Estate, Keller Williams Realty. “We are experiencing many new listings selling quickly and still at higher prices.”
From Jan. 1 through March 31, homes sold in Four Points — which includes Comanche Trail, Grandview Hills/Parke, River Place, Steiner Ranch and Westminster Glen — increased by 21 or 44% compared to a year ago. Median sale price increased 11% to $605,000 and price per square foot increased 10% to $193. Median days on market decreased from 30 to 12 days compared to 2019, according to Multiple Listing Service data.
“(These numbers) also take into consideration the negative effects of COVID-19 beginning in early March and the shelter-in-place order on March 24th,” said Radack, who lives in River Place and has been selling real estate in Four Points for 25 years.
In March alone, despite the coronavirus, Four Points sales were up to 30 compared to 24 sales last year and median sales price increased 40% to $612,000 during that time, MLS data shows. Radack said one reason for the huge jump is that home sales in March 2019 were down more than usual.
March 2020 data also shows that the price per square foot increased 15% to $196. Days on market decreased from 17 to 6 and new listings decreased from 51 to 34.
As an essential business, real estate agents are on duty and homes are being listed, shown, inspected and closed during the statewide orders.
All parties involved in the real estate process have COVID-19 rules that they must follow to protect sellers, buyers and everyone involved in a sale.
“Yes, this is a difficult time, but there are many who have the where-with-all to buy and those who want or need to sell,” Radack said.
The Four Points April numbers so far also look promising. From March 24 through April 19, there were 26 sales compared to 18 during the same period last year and new listings were up 52% to 57, and pending sales nearly doubled from 10 to 19 compared to 2019, Radack said.
Favorable financing, with relatively low interest rates, is helping homes to sell in many cases. Jumbo loan rates, however, have increased somewhat and require higher amounts down, he added.
“Overall rates should remain very low, but probably not much lower. Lenders are very close now to their operating costs, and lower Federal Reserve rates do not translate into a lower mortgage rate,” Radack said.
City of Austin
Local shelter-in-place orders that went into effect on March 24 had little impact on March home sales, according to the Austin Board of Realtors latest Central Texas Housing Market Report.
In March, the median price for residential homes in the city of Austin rose 14% year-over-year to $415,000, an all-time high for any month on record, according to ABOR. Residential home sales remained flat and new listings decreased 7.5%
At the county level in March, residential home sales increased a fraction at .4%. The median price for residential homes jumped 15% year-over-year and new listings decreased 13%.
In March, residential sales in the five-county Metropolitan Statistical Area increased just over 2% year-over-year to 3,042 sales and the median price jumped nearly 12% year-
over-year to $335,200.
“Like realtors, sellers should remain cautiously optimistic during this time. Austin-area homebuyers are still looking to buy homes, and fewer homes on the market means stronger demand and increased visibility for your property, ” said Romeo Manzanilla, 2020 ABoR president. “Despite the challenges of COVID-19, we’re still in a seller’s market and sellers should be encouraged to list their homes.”
Radack said that Central Texas residential real estate has not yet felt the significant impact that many other industries like restaurants, entertainment, and retail operations are experiencing.
“For housing in the Austin area, there is not enough inventory, so it will probably be a good year, considering the number of potential buyers needing homes,” he added. “As long as builders keep building, this will help keep prices stable; if they should stop or delay building, prices could rise.”
“All things considered, our area is still a great place to be,” Radack said.
The virus is impacting many things. Traffic is lighter and the RM 2222 and RM 620 road construction is moving quicker than expected. Grocery stores and restaurants are supplying food and necessities while many other small businesses and offices are temporarily closed.
“We are seeing many acts of kindness in helping others cope with this difficult time,” Radack said. “We all are hoping this COVID-19 mess ends soon, and we can begin a process toward a normal life. Please be safe and have faith!”