Who’s being left out of Austin’s residential boom?

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — We’ve been hearing a lot about the Austin-Round Rock metro area’s climbing housing prices and increasingly competitive market.

The trend in north Austin, where companies like Apple, Amazon and Facebook are adding employees by the thousands, was a focus during Austin Business Journal’s North Austin Growth Summit.

ABJ is a KXAN media partner.

They report there’s only a few days’ supply of homes in north Austin compared to a six-month supply for a healthy market. The competition is pricing lots of groups and people out, like Eric Fernandes.

He helps build homes in the Austin metro but can’t seem to own one.

“You have to almost watch your mental health with this, because it can be very frustrating, and it can drive your anxiety up. It can be even depressing to continually, you know, lose out on your dream home,” he said.

Fernandez finally saved up enough for a down payment, but that’s not enough to compete with cash payments over asking price.

“My agent almost said he doesn’t even want to submit some offers if we do it at asking price, because they almost get laughed out at this point,” he said.

Even Federal Housing Administration loans, which are aimed at helping with down payments, don’t fill the gap.

“For those who might not have large down payments or do not have extra cash to spare, that is definitely a concern,” said Jolene Weinstein, head of sales for Realty Austin.

Realty groups like hers say that means folks with low to moderate incomes are being left out of the buying market. The Texas Affiliation of Affordable Housing Providers said renters are, too — and it’s also driving the rental costs up.

“People that would otherwise be homeowners, find themselves still renting. And so, because they are still in a rental situation, that thereby limits that supply, which means that the prices continue to increase,” said Roger Arriaga, executive director of the Texas Affiliation of Affordable Housing Providers.

Weinstein and Arriaga are calling on city leaders to not only boost the number of homes, but boost the number of affordable homes.

“Affordability in Austin is definitely a focus the city and all the top businesses that are moving here need help with,” Weinstein said.

Something Fernandes echoes. But until then, the current renter hopes to become an owner before his lease ends in November and is now looking in rural areas like Llano, Bastrop and Burnet counties.

“I’m having to look further and further away from Austin, you know, even though I grew up here,” said Fernandes, who had hoped to stay close to his family.

“Just keep at it, and hopefully something will pop up at the right time,” he added.

Weinstein said they expect more housing inventory this summer but expect the competitive market to last for at least a year or two.

She said if you are looking to buy a home right now, you may want to find an experienced realtor who can help make your offer stand out.

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