Austin could be running out of space for single-family homes — what can be done?


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Home starts in the U.S. have hit a 13-year high.

But as development accelerates, some in Austin say we’ll run out of space for single-family homes.

Many think changes to the Land Development Code will help add inventory and improve affordability.

But home prices may not be coming down anytime soon.

Homes in one developing Avery Ranch subdivision start in the low $300,000s — prices that even seemed high to Metrostudy’s Vaike O’Grady, an expert in local housing trends.

“Part of that has to do with what’s happening with the employment growth on the north side, especially the Apple campus,” O’Grady said.

While it’s obvious that buying a home in Austin is competitive, it’s getting harder and harder to find land within the city limits to even build one.

According to Metrostudy, there are more than 13,000 single-family lots that could potentially be built on. Addtionally, there are more than 2,000 lots in the city that could be developed immediately.

But O’Grady says that developers started building nearly that many homes in one year. She says the city could potentially run out of single-family lots within 18 months — but there’s a caveat.

“We don’t track tear downs, and we don’t count ‘onesie twosie builds,’ so there’s more than that on the ground really,” she said.

The theory is that changes to Austin’s Land Development Code will allow for more inventory and make home prices go down.

That said, Austin is such a hot market, O’Grady says she doesn’t believe it will happen any time soon.

“So it’s going to take some time for us to bring home prices into a more affordable range,” O’Grady says.

Developers brought more than 20,000 lots online in the Austin area last year. Only about 1400 of those were within City limits.

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