Austin Home Sales Rise 11% In November
RESOURCE: Austin Business Journal

The number of existing single-family homes sold in November rose 11 percent and the median price for area homes was up 3 percent when compared to the same month last year, according to the Austin Board of Realtors .

Last month, 1,358 homes were sold and the median home price was $189,300.

On average, homes spent 83 days on the market in November, which is exactly one week less than the same month last year.

Austin’s market listed 18 percent fewer active listings and 15 percent more pending sales in November 2011 than November 2010.

The Austin market had 4.5 months of inventory, 1.4 months less than November 2010 and the lowest figure reported since the organization began tracking the statistic in January 2009, according to the Multiple Listing Service report.

It was the sixth month in a row that the volume of home sales in Austin outpaced 2010 while the inventory of available homes decreased, according to Judith Bundschuh, chairman of the Austin Board of Realtors.

“As we approach the end of the year, sellers should be encouraged that demand and prices are strong. Buyers should know the decrease in inventory combined with increased demand could mean they will encounter more competition for properties,” said Bundschuh.

The Austin townhouse and condominium market spiked as well.

According to ABoR, 123 condominiums sold in Austin last month, up 21 percent over November 2010. Median prices for condominiums were up 1 percent over November last year, rising to $157,000.

When compared to the same month of the prior year, these properties spent 12 percent longer on the market, or an average of 114 days.

Some real estate brokers on the ground are seeing the numbers in action and analyzing what they mean for the coming year.

“The numbers ABoR is reporting still reflect the hangover effect from the buyer tax credit that expired in April 2010,” said Robert Grunnah, broker and owner of Austin-based Castle Hill Investments .

Grunnah said the vast majority of homebuyer demand in 2010 was satisfied prior to the federal homebuyer tax credit’s expiration that June, leading to a significant dearth of sales later that year, making the November 2011 numbers seem like a more significant increase than they actually were.

“2012 will see continued moderate increases in sales volume and a less significant increase in overall values,” said Grunnah.

Regarding condo activity, Grunnah said “the increase in activity in the condo market is clearly a result of owners being more realistic with their values, and reducing prices to stimulate sales. We’ve also seen a large number of foreclosed condos coming onto the market at reduced prices, which increases the rate of overall condo sales.”

Looking into the crystal ball, Grunnah expects growth.

“Once the pent-up supply works through the system, we will likely to see a return to more typical 4 percent to 6 percent annual value growth. I’d like to say this will happen in 2013, but it depends on factors outside of Austin’s control such as residential financing becoming more available and unemployment decreasing in other parts of the country,” Grunnah said.

Todd Grossman with Realty Austin said the residential real estate market is currently seeing a lot of activity even though this time of the year is typically slow.

“Rates are still low, employment is high in Austin, press is positive nationally, and weather is great, which is probably doing something for us currently,” said Grossman.

If current trends remain unchanged, Grossman said the biggest challenge in Austin’s immediate future is a lack of quality inventory for buyers when the selling season hits.

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