By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
The Four Points real estate market is hot and not expected to cool anytime soon, according to experts. Home prices are up and inventory is down in Four Points, Austin and the Central Texas area.
The median home price in the Four Points area including River Place, Steiner Ranch, Grandview Hills and Comanche Trail increased 22.6% in March to $748,000 compared to a year ago. The first three months of 2021 showed median home prices increase 21.2% to $726,000.
“Our area, as is Central Texas, is in an extreme seller’s market,” said Tom Radack, owner of Bartlett Real Estate, Keller Williams Realty in River Place and a longtime resident of River Place. “Often there is little or sometimes no inventory. Prices are now exceeding the asking prices.”
Radack said that since July 2020 through January 2021, prices on average
are 100% to 101% of asking price and for February and March, 109% and 111%, respectively.
“And it’s not just the price, buyers are making major concessions such as: offering free, lease back to seller, paying seller’s title policy costs, and other seller expenses. Also, offering cash or cash equivalents in lieu of financing and not requiring an appraisal is becoming standard,” Radack said.
The first quarter of 2021 showed homes sales in Four Points decreasing to 66, down 9% from a year ago. During the same period, new listings decreased 16.2% to 103, while active listings decreased 76% to 13.
Housing inventory decreased from 1.8 months to .4 months of inventory, year over year
This situation is not expected to end soon, Radack said.
“Many companies and their employees are moving to central Texas, as well as many who just want to get out of the high taxed and expensive areas,” he said. “The continued influx of new buyers seeing (Austin) as much more affordable than where they are leaving, will gladly pay higher prices to get a home here.”
According to the Austin Board of Realtors latest Central Texas Housing Report, the median price for a home in the Metropolitan Statistical Area rose by 28.8% compared to last year, hitting an all-time high of $425,000.
Across the five-county MSA in March, home sales increased 13.1% year over year to 3,603 — a record for the month of March.
“The Austin-Round Rock MSA is one of the fastest growing in the country, people want to live here, and job creators see opportunity to be successful here,” said Susan Horton, 2021 Austin Board of Realtors president.
She says that Austin is investing in infrastructure and businesses are working to harness this growth and opportunity, but with opportunity comes challenges.
“Our housing market is undergoing growing pains and creating a paradox — affordable from the outside looking in, but increasingly unaffordable for those who already call Austin home,” Horton said. “While more homes are selling than ever before, it’s more and more difficult to find one.”
Austin compared to metros
Dr. Jim Gaines, an economist at the Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M University, stated that rapid home price growth and shrinking housing inventory levels are impacting housing markets across major metros in Texas and nationally.
“While Austin leads the state in home price growth, this trend is also happening in Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio due to high demand and limited housing supply. For a market that has experienced several decades of strong population and employment growth, significant gains in both sales activity and housing costs across the region are to be expected as Austin expands into a large metropolitan area.”
Gaines added that Austin’s housing demand is benefiting from historically being less expensive than other major metropolitan areas across the country.
“Austin real estate is still a bargain by national standards. Compared to similarly competitive markets in cities like Denver and Atlanta, which are also experiencing rapid population and home price growth, Austin is coming from a stronger position in terms of affordability. There is a reason so many transplants, especially from the east and west coasts, are coming to Austin; they can buy more house for their money than what they could in the cities they are leaving behind.”
City of Austin
In March, the median sales price in the city of Austin jumped 24.8% to $514,000 – an all-time high for any month on record for the city of Austin.
In Travis County, the median price for residential homes increased 24.1% year over year to $490,000 as new listings declined 3.9% to 2,143 listings.
The market dynamics however create a consequence. It is truly trying times for buyers, and sellers who would like to move but with nowhere to buy, Radack said.
“One must be very careful when getting caught up in multiple offers or the bidding frenzy. It’s easy to offer too much and get into situations where one is hit with unexpected costs or delays, both for the buyer and seller,” Radack said.