How will Austin code rewrite affect home values? Appraisal district doesn’t know

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — City council meets Wednesday for a special called session to address a single issue: the rewrite of the city building codes that determine who can build what and where.

The meeting comes ahead of a public hearing on Saturday and a potential council vote on the issue as early as next week.

Tuesday, Travis County Appraisal District’s chief appraiser, Marya Crigler, told city council members the district doesn’t know how the new code would affect home prices.

“It is too early for us to say whether it would be a negative or a positive” impact on values, she said.

Homeowners worry their home values will spike in the so-called “transition zones” that are a key piece of the code rewrite. The zones around transportation and activity corridors would allow owners of single-family homes to keep their property as-is, remodel or build additional units.

A single-family home’s proximity to the higher-density units, some worry, could bring up the home’s value.

But Crigler emphasized Tuesday that values are based on what similar homes nearby are selling for, and not just others within a transition zone.

Therefore, it’s hard to know whether people will be willing to pay more or less for homes based on the fact that they’re in transition zones.

“We’re going to have to wait and let the market tell us what the impact is going to be,” Crigler said.

It will likely take a few years to figure out whether there’s a trend within transition zones and whether it warrants changes in how the district appraises those homes.

Another wrinkle in trying to predict values, Crigler added, is the fact that there simply isn’t enough housing in Austin. How much a buyer pays for a home depends on how many houses are on the market; without adequate stock, houses are selling fast and they’re getting more expensive.

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