Market ‘crazy hot,’ agent says
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.