Mar­ket ‘crazy hot,’ agent says


Austin American-Statesman - - NEWS - Con­tin­ued from A A ‘sold’ sign at a house on East Mon­roe Street in Travis Heights on Thurs­day of­fers some proof that there’s no hol­i­day lull in Austin’s hous­ing mar­ket. JAY JAN­NER / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN Con­tact Shonda No­vak at 445-3856.

vol­ume in­creases, and the area’s most home sales in Novem­ber since 2007, the board said. Na­tion­ally, home sales were up 5.9 per­cent in Novem­ber over the same month last year.

“The typ­i­cal lull of the Thanks­giv­ing hol­i­day did not slow down the Austin real es­tate mar­ket,” said Leonard Guer­rero, chair­man of the Austin Board of Real­tors. “This is the strong­est Novem­ber hous­ing mar­ket we’ve seen since the re­ces­sion.”

The lat­est report came as no sur­prise to lo­cal agents who have been see­ing mul­ti­ple of­fers on prop­er­ties for months in some ar­eas, and to homeshop­pers forced to con­tinue their search if they don’t act quickly.

“The mar­ket is crazy hot,” said Peggy Lit­tle, an agent with JB Good­win Real­tors in Austin. “You got to buy it when you see it. I’m sell­ing homes be­fore they even hit the mar­ket.”

De­mand is be­ing fu­eled by the re­gion’s job and pop­u­la­tion growth, his­tor­i­cally low mort­gage in­ter­est rates, a ren­tal squeeze and ris­ing rents, and a shrink­ing in­ven­tory that has height­ened com­pe­ti­tion for list­ings, ex­perts say. (In Novem­ber, there were 5,737 ac­tive list­ings, about 20 per­cent fewer than in Novem­ber 2011, the board said.)

And per­haps the most im­por­tant fac­tor boost­ing sales: grow­ing con­sumer con­fi­dence driven by ris­ing home prices, said El­don Rude, di­rec­tor of the Austin mar­ket for Met­ros­tudy, a hous­ing re­search, con­sult­ing and fore­cast­ing firm.

“In meet­ings I was in this week with the direc­tors for all of Met­ros­tudy’s 40 mar­kets na­tion­wide, most all of them re­ported in­creas­ing de­mand for ex­ist­ing and new homes, even in the mar­kets most im­pacted by the re­ces­sion,” Rude said. “If re­cent re­ports fore­cast­ing con­tin­ued strong job growth in the Austin re­gion prove true, more peo­ple will be mov­ing to the area in 2013, and if they don’t rent they will add to the al­ready strong de­mand for avail­able new and re­sale homes.”

This week, Tru­lia put out its list of the top 10 health­i­est hous­ing mar­kets head­ing into 2013. Austin made the list at No. 5. Hous­ton ranked first, fol­lowed by San Fran­cisco; Bethesda-RockvilleFred­er­ick, Md.; and San An­to­nio.

Sellers in some ar­eas, in­clud­ing those in cen­tral, south and north­west lo­ca­tions, who price their homes prop­erly are “en­joy­ing brisk ac­tiv­ity and mul­ti­ple of­fers within a few days of putting their house on the mar­ket,” said Sylvia Cross­land, a bro­ker who co-owns Cross­land Real Es­tate.

“Prices of­ten go $5,000 to $30,000 above orig­i­nal list price, de­pend­ing on the price range of the homes in the area.”

In­dica­tive of the mar­ket is a house in French Place, east of In­ter­state 35. The house is un­der con­tract, but bro­ker Lyon Ge­gen­heimer, who has the list­ing, said he still gets calls on it daily from buy­ers and buy­ers’ agents. The agents, he said, “have seen ev­ery­thing, have ex­hausted the mar­ket, and are des­per­ately look­ing for a home that might fall out of es­crow and come back on the mar­ket.

“We rarely get calls from agents re­search­ing and fol­low­ing up on homes that are al­ready un­der con­tract,” said Ge­gen­heimer.

Some prospec­tive out-of-town buy­ers are send­ing friends who live here as sur­ro­gates to check out a list­ing, said Janet Dean, an agent with JB Good­win Real­tors.

“Be­cause buy­ers know they have to move quickly on good prop­er­ties, they’re ask­ing friends to visit the prop­erty for them and they’ll make of­fers sight un­seen, based on the judg­ment of their friend, sur­ro­gate or agent,” Dean said. “Buy­ers really do know what’s go­ing on in the mar­ket, and they’re get­ting cre­ative.”

Cen­tral Texas has a short­age of hous­ing for the num­ber of peo­ple mov­ing here, about 60,000 a year, said Mark Sprague, a lo­cal hous­ing ex­pert. There cur­rently is about a three-month sup­ply, but six months is con­sid­ered a balanced mar­ket be­tween sup­ply and de­mand, said Sprague, di­rec­tor of busi­ness devel­op­ment for In­de­pen­dence Ti­tle.

“Get ready for a surge in home prices” in 2013 and 2014, Sprague said by email.

Some peo­ple are “start­ing to feel a bit of the pres­sure of home prices start­ing to rise,” said Rachel Musiker, a spokes­woman for Redfin, a na­tional bro­ker­age with an Austin of­fice.

“They want to get in be­fore they rise too much more,” Musiker said.

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