AUSTIN (KXAN) — Amid the roller-coaster whiplash that is Austin’s housing market, the professional organization that helps local realtors advise clients on what to do is bringing on a full-time economist.

Clare Losey, Ph.D., previously worked as a research assistant at the Texas Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M University. Now she’ll take that experience and help the Austin Board of Realtors’ more than 20,000 realtors by using econometric and statistical models.

Losey has experience using these models to analyze Texas housing markets and talked with KXAN about what she’s expecting moving forward.

Tom Miller: Why does the Austin Board of Realtors need a full-time economist, and what are you bringing to the organization?

Dr. Clare Losey: The Austin Round Rock (metropolitan statistical area) is one of the fastest-growing regions in the nation. Our housing market has dominated headlines over the past decade, particularly during the pandemic. It’s important to the Austin Board of Realtors, that our 20,000-plus members can navigate our ever-evolving economy and its effects on the housing market. Through my position, I’ll provide timely, accurate, and comprehensive analysis and insights into both the Austin housing market and the broader regional economy.

Tom: For years we saw prices going up, they shot up. Now they’re cooling off pretty significantly. What factors are at play here?

Losey: Housing is the most interest rate-sensitive sector in the overall economy. The doubling of mortgage rates over the past year plus now has certainly weakened the demand for homeownership. And the Austin housing market continues to moderate amid the significantly higher mortgage interest rates and still elevated home prices. Sustained strong population and job growth throughout the region have actually mitigated the decline in the demand for homeownership though. On a year-over-year basis in March we saw that sales contracted about 14%. But that was actually lower than the nation’s 22% decline in sales. So there’s an indication that the Austin housing market has been able to weather the effects of higher interest rates a little bit better than the overall economy.

Tom: Looking forward in the next couple of months, the next year or two, which direction do you see the housing market going?

Losey: We’re going to probably continue to see a little bit of a decline or maybe some flatlining, the effects will be mitigated by that stronger job growth, which tends to translate into higher demand for housing.

Tom: If you are looking at buying a home in the Austin Metro, or maybe selling your house you already own, what’s your advice to those folks right now?

Losey: The best piece of advice I can give to anyone who is preparing to buy or sell a home is to work with trusted professionals, including realtors. The overall economy right now is experiencing a little bit of turbulence. Of course, we’re seeing still high inflation. There’s questions over the solvency of regional banks, etc, etc. So now more than ever, it’s really imperative that buyers and sellers rely on the expertise of those professionals who can guide them through what’s happening overall in the broader economy and housing market.