Austin-Round Rock metro makes list of cities on the verge of housing crisis

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin-Round Rock metro area is one of 15 cities across the country on the verge of a housing crisis, according to 24/7 Wall St

The financial news company analyzed median home prices and looked at how quickly the numbers have risen after the 2008 financial crisis. 

Its data found Austin-Round Rock’s home price is 62 percent higher now compared to the pre-recession peak.

  • Current median home price: $302,000
  • Pre-recession peak: $186,250

24/7 Wall St. says while a steady increase in prices can be healthy, too much growth too quickly can lead to market instability. It cautions, however, other factors like interest rates and delinquency rates also play a role.

The Austin Board of Realtors’ most recent report found home prices are starting to stabilize.

In a news release, Kevin P. Scanlan, 2019 president of the Austin Board of Realtors said, “In the first quarter of the year, the median price of a single-family home in the Austin-Round Rock MSA increased by just 0.2 percent, which is a much smaller margin compared to previous years. Between 2012 and 2015, we saw price increases as high as 9 percent.”

Broker Eric Bramlett told KXAN he’s seeing no signs of the Austin housing market slowing down. 

“If they’re priced right, this time of the year, you’re going to be on the market for two to three weeks,” he said. “We’re pretty lucky. Our housing market’s incredibly healthy, incredibly strong.”

Bramlett said he receives about 500 calls a month from potential buyers and sellers. 

“The biggest driver for us is our incredibly strong job market. A lot of companies are moving here. They need to hire people, so they’re bringing people in to fill those jobs, and people need a place to live,” he explained. 

Vaike O’Grady, Austin Regional Director at Metrostudy, said, while prices did go up in the last 10 years, they are now stabilizing, thanks to the supply slowly catching up with the demand. 

“The average resale price in Austin was about $315,000 last year. That’s the same price it is this year,” she said. “We’re seeing more and more activity to the north and to the south of Austin. We’ll see smaller lots and smaller homes, which keeps prices down. If we can deliver homes for under $300,000, there’s ample demand for that.”

O’Grady and Bramlett also explained there is one key difference between the 2008 crisis and now. 

“Lending guidelines in 2007 in hindsight were incredibly insane,” Bramlett said. “Believe it or not in 2007, they were not verifying whether or not somebody was employed before they would give them a loan to buy a house.”

Another indicator the market isn’t as bad as it was just before the 2008 crash is the declining mortgage delinquency rate. The 90-date rate shows borrowers who missed three or more payments. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, that rate reached a peak in 2010, but has been steadily decreaing. 

A new list from homes.com also ranked Round Rock as one of the best places to buy a home this summer. 

So while some local experts believe Austin isn’t nearing a crisis level at this time, they say the housing market isn’t perfect. 

“We’ve been undersupplied for such a long time,” said O’Grady. 

Bramlett said, “The biggest issue here is going to be transportation. We really need to get our infrastructure take care of.”

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