By K.Q. THOMAS, Four Points News
The landscape dotted with bulldozers, cranes, graders and back hoes tells the story: The Austin area continues to sprout new homes and buildings to accommodate an ever-increasing population.
The Census Bureau released its American Community Survey for 2015 – 2019 several months ago. Travis County has added some 50,000 people since 2017, growing 4.3% . Median income is $75,887 per household, up nearly 10% since 2017’s five-year estimates.
The Four Points area is seeing similar growth, both in population and in income.
“The area just west of Austin has a reputation,” said Matthew Patton, senior project manager at AngelouEconomics, a consulting firm based in Austin. “Once you hit a certain achievement level,a certain income level, this is the area you want to live in.”
The 78732 ZIP code area, which includes Steiner Ranch, has grown by nearly 10% to 17,780 since 2015. Average income has also grown by 26% in that same time period, hitting $167,604. Some 37% of this neighborhood make $200,000 or more per year.
Other west side neighbors also fare well, income-wise. Westlake’s 78746 ZIP code, with a population of 28,608, had a median household income of $151,801 as of 2019. An estimated 38.6% had income over $200,000 or more.
River Place, Long Canyon, Westminster Glen and Glenlake, in 78730, with a population of 10,848, had a median income of $124,063 during the same five year period. An estimated 38.7% had income of $200,000 or more.
ZIP 78726, which includes some of the Four Points area, and has a population of 14,040, saw a median income of $77,384. Nearly 17% had income of $200,000 or more.
South of Four Points, the 78739 ZIP Code, which includes Circle C, with a population of 21,040, came in just behind Steiner Ranch,with a median household income of $162,271. About 36.5% of households in that ZIP code had income of $200,000 or more.
Why the West Side?
The allure is all about quality of life, Patton said. “The natural landscape, it’s the beginning of Hill Country” he said. “It’s greener, there’s more space between properties and not as much congestion. More land for bigger homes.”
Housing prices reflect the area’s income. The median price of owner occupied units in 78732, is $536,800, with 7.3% of those homes costing $1 million or more. In 78730, the median price of a home is $730,800, with 21% of those at $1 million or more. 78726, the median home costs $473,500, with none current over $1 million. And in 78739, the median home price is $467,000, with 7.3% of those going for $1 million or more.
“You need a certain level of professional achievement to move there,” Patton said.
The increase in income growth in the Four Points area is not necessarily due to a changing population, said Lacy Patterson, planner and GIS analyst from the City of Austin’s Housing and Planning Department. “I believe the numbers suggest that the increase in the median household income in 78732 is driven more by residents’ incomes increasing than by a shift in the people moving in or out of the area.
“Conversely, the large increase in median household income in 78726 seems likely to be driven more by lower income people moving out and being replaced by households making under $150,000, but higher than previous residents.”
Some 48% of 78732 residents have at least a bachelor’s degree. When parents are more educated, they want their children to have the same opportunities for learning, Patton said.
With slightly more than half of the households in the Steiner Ranch area having children–5,983 children 17 and under–good schools are key. “The schools on the west side are a known commodity with established reputations,” Patton said. “Students get plenty of extracurricular activities and are more likely go on to higher education.”
In 2020, “US News” nationally ranked Vandegrift High School, which serves Four Points, at No. 576, with a 99% graduation rate. Nearly 70% of Vandegrift students passed an Advanced Placement exam.
Although the west side is growing, other parts of Travis County are also growing, said Matthew Patton. This area is becoming another Silicon Valley, with so many companies moving to the north end of the county. This has led to growth and higher median home values in Round Rock, Hutto, Leander and Cedar Park, he said.
With the expected influx of workers when Tesla arrives, Realtors are also beginning to look at the southeast, he said. Expect some growth in home prices in areas like Del Valle and Bastrop, along the 71 corridor, he said.