Austin home sales dramatically drop while prices soar due to COVID-19

CultureMap Austin

Apparently, there is one things that can slow Austin real estate: a global pandemic. After a decade of near constant growth, Austin single-family home sales dramatically dropped last month due to the impact of COVID-19.

Residential sales in the five-county metro area declined by 21.6 percent over April 2019, to just 2,611 sales, according to the Austin Board of Realtors’ April 2020 Central Texas Housing Report. Sales dollar volume in the Austin-Round Rock metro also saw a sharp decline, falling 18.3 percent from last year. 

But not everything has changed. The local impact of stay-at-home orders has led to a decline in the number of homes being listed (a 7.3 percent drop), but people still want to buy in Austin, leading to an increase in the median home price both inside the city and across the greater metro area.

In the city of Austin, the median home price exploded to $421,000, a 12.1 percent increase over last year. The five-county metro’s median price now sits at $325,000, a 3.2 percent increase from April 2019.

“We anticipated a sharp decline in April home sales activity, as it directly correlates with the decline in listings activity recorded in March due to government stay-at-home orders,” said ABOR president Romeo Manzanilla in the report.

“Even with the impact to home sales, homes still spent less time on the market and sold at higher prices than last April. Austin’s housing demand is undeterred, and possibly strengthened by declining inventory.”

City of Austin

Oh, boy, did that inventory decline. Inside the city limits, new listings fell 7.3 percent to just 6,349 active properties. As listings fell, so did residential sales by 33.1 percent to 759. 

Monthly housing inventory, aka the length of time a property is listed and a key indicator of a balanced market, shrunk to 1.6 months.

Travis County

The county’s numbers closely mirrored those of Austin. Residential home sales shrunk (28.6 percent), while the median home price soared to $395,000, a 9.7 percent year over year.

Like Austin, new listings, pending sales, and monthly housing inventory in Travis County also fell.

Rest of the metro area

The remaining four counties — Williamson, Hays, Caldwell, and Bastrop — largely saw the same pattern, except for Hays, which oddly saw a 16.2 percent spike in sales. 

Williamson saw a 23.1 percent decrease in residential sales accompanied by a relatively mild 6.6 percent rise in the median home price to $300,000. Likewise, Caldwell’s home sales dropped 36.7 percent and its median price also dropped 1.9 percent year over year to $202,500. Meanwhile, home sales in Bastrop also fell, albeit less dramatically, by 6.5 percent while the median home price hit $260,000, a 10.6 percent increase. 

And then there’s Hays, the great outlier. Not only did home sales climb during the COVID-19 pandemic, the spike led to a 1.6 percent decrease in the median home price at $284,950.

Despite all of this topsy-turvy, coronavirus-induced mayhem, Manzanilla remains optimistic about Austin’s residential real estate market recovering quickly. 

“It could have been much worse,” he said. “Efforts to recognize real estate as an essential business helped lessen the negative impact of the pandemic during April; now listing and showing activity is already on the rise again. We’re hopeful this growth will continue in the coming weeks and months.”

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