There was a time not long ago when the feasibility of owning a home in Austin was as simple as having a stable job history, decent credit and some savings. The reality today is slightly different. According to an article in the October 2015 RealtyLine newspaper, “Leaders agree: Austin is becoming less affordable for homebuyers.”
While living in Florida, the residents jokingly said the state bird was the crane—not the stoic birds which grace the water, but the metal kind. Well, now that joke is in Austin. As Travis and surrounding counties see exponential population growth, home buyers and sellers are seeing the repercussions of the growth in housing prices, rental and for sale. No matter where one travels in Travis county, you’ll see some type of construction work pertaining to roadways, housing and business. The downtown skyline is filled with the mystical metal crane as skyscrapers are being built as rapidly as the city inspections will allow; the same goes for single family homes.
When it comes to affordable housing, there is some injustice happening. I read an article from the Texas Tribune which states “A recent audit of HUD’s public housing program for 2014 and 2015 found more than 25,000 families living in public housing nationwide that made more than the income limit to qualify for rent subsidies.” Texas currently doesn’t make up the majority of the 25,000; with over 100+ persons per day moving to the Austin area either for school, transfer or seeking work, there is a housing issue. While HUD goes through the process of creating a plan to extricate these families with higher wages for those who really are in need of government housing assistance, the question is: Can those who eventually be requested to vacate the public housing program be able to afford rent or even a home purchase?
The RealtyLine article goes on to quote, “…[RECA] affordable housing report “more than 60 percent of the new 100,000 jobs added in Austin region in the last decade were in sectors that made less than $45,000 a year.” What this translates to is the average wage earner would not qualify for the average home in Austin as the median sales price per ABoR for May 2017 was $310,000. If these buyers are willing to move to locations further out—say Pflugerville, Round Rock, Buda, Kyle, or even Bastrop in the next few years and commute to work, they could find something in their affordability range, otherwise they may be priced out of being able to purchase a home in the City of Austin area, thus leaving families in the rental market, which is becoming unaffordable too.
If buyers don’t already know this, then listen up. September through December is the most affordable time to purchase a home; historically it’s been this way ‘since the dawn of time’ no matter what state of America you live in. Sellers with their homes on the market during these months want to sell. Inventory is at it’s all time high for the year and have an average market time of 60-90 days, which means prices are driven down. Multiple offers are not as prominent, so your buyer’s agent may be able to negotiate down payment assistance or repairs or just a reduction in price vs. January through August [of 2016] when multiple offers started within hours of the listing hitting the market without even viewing the home. So, if you like living on the edge and thrive in a market where you’ll pay more for a home than any other time of the year, wait until after New Year’s day. If you’re financially savvy and have the ability to purchase or finance a home, now is the time to get serious as the Austin market is seeing a slight lag and there are some lenders with access to down payment assistance programs. If you haven’t been following the housing market, now is the time.
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