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Your Austin real estate blog

Thank you for visiting Homeowner Herald, the official blog of, providing valuable information for both home buyers and sellers. Follow us on Twitter or check in each week for new posts on topics ranging from holiday decorating to the economy to moving into your new home. This blog is maintained by the Austin Board of REALTORS®. If you’d like to suggest a blog topic, contact the ABoR Marketing Department.

Markets/Economy topics

Austin real estate blog
2011 Austin real estate market: First quarter review

The first quarter of 2011 was marked by stable home prices and a healthy inventory of homes in Austin's real estate market. Compared to 2010, the median price for Austin homes increased by six percent in January, two percent in February and two percent in March of 2011, landing at $185,260 at the close of the first quarter.

A total of 3,631 homes were sold during the first three months of 2011, three percent fewer homes than were sold during the same period the previous year. Austin's month's supply of inventory ranged from 5.4 to 6.2 months, whereas national figures ranged from 7.5 to 8.5 months. According to the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, 6.5 months of inventory indicates a balanced market.

Judith Bundschuh, Chairman of the Austin Board of REALTORS®, noted, "Like all of 2011 thus far, we must recognize that month-to-month comparisons are still being influenced by the impact of last year's homebuyer tax credits. Thus, fluctuations in sales volume and listings compared to last year are to be expected."

For more information about the Austin real estate market and how it may affect you, contact your Central Texas REALTOR®.

Austin real estate blog
Austin’s 2010 housing market: A year in review

The Austin Board of REALTORS® recently released its Multiple Listing Service (MLS) report for December of 2010, concluding their analysis of the Austin housing market this past year. So how did Austin real estate perform in 2010?

Austin home sales posted year-over-year increases during the first half of 2010, with the biggest upsurges occurring in March, April and May (with increases of 27 percent, 31 percent and 24 percent respectively). John Horton, 2010 Chairman of the Austin Board of REALTORS®, explained that the substantial increase in sales during this period was likely due to the expiration of the homebuyer tax credits on April 30.

Horton noted that "we have the unique situation of the homebuyer tax credits that inspired many buyers to purchase homes sooner than usual. Thus, it's more meaningful to evaluate our market from a year-to-date perspective, instead of month-to-month, to gain a clear picture."

Overall, a total of 17,905 single-family homes were sold in Austin in 2010, a five percent decrease compared to 2009. Homes in Austin took an average of 77 days to sell, which is two percent less than the amount of time it took in 2009. The median price of Austin real estate remained stable, averaging at $193,520 for the year, a three percent increase from 2009.

The Austin market also remained healthy in regards to its housing inventory. The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M states that 6.5 months of inventory indicates a healthy market, with anything above 6.5 considered a "buyer's market" and anything below considered a "seller's market." Austin's month's supply of inventory ranged from 5.4 to 7.3 in 2010, while national housing inventory ranged from 6.9 to 11.9.

Heading into 2011, Austin appears to be on the road to economic recovery. Last month, attendees of the 2011 Housing Forecast co-hosted by the Austin Board of REALTORS® and the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin gained some insight into the future of Austin's housing market and economy.

Eldon Rude, Director of the Austin Market for Metrostudy and one of the speakers at the housing forecast, predicted that slowed home construction, as well as increasing apartment occupancy and rental rates would help Austin's housing market, noting that "with increasing rent, renters will have to decide whether to keep paying rent or buy a home." Rude believes that home pricing pressure, job growth and consumer confidence will help put Austin's economy back on track in 2011 and into 2012.

Statistics from the December 2010 MLS report can be found in our Austin Real Estate Report section. Be sure to check in each month as we evaluate Austin's housing market throughout 2011.

Austin real estate blog
Defining Austin real estate market statistics

If you've ever read the Austin Real Estate Report on, you've probably seen terms such as "year-to-date" and "inventory of homes." To help you decipher the real estate jargon and better understand the statistics shared from the Austin Board of REALTORS®' monthly Multiple Listing Service (MLS) reports, we've provided a glossary of terms commonly seen in real estate market reports.

Single-family homes - Though MLS reports track a wide variety of property statistics, including those regarding condominiums, townhouses and commercial properties, the general health of the Austin area real estate market is typically judged by the statistics regarding single-family homes. As the name implies, a single-family home belongs to one family and is a free-standing property with its own lot. These properties are what commonly come to mind when one thinks of a residential neighborhood property.

Median price - The median price listed on a monthly MLS report indicates the middle price point of homes sold in the past month. In other words, if home sale prices were listed from lowest to highest value, median price would be the number that falls in the middle of that list. The median price is usually referred to instead of average price, as the average price can easily be skewed by "outliers," such as a small number of very highly priced homes.

Active home sales - This term refers to property listings currently for sale on the market. Properties that are undergoing contract negotiations are not included in this figure.

Days on market (DOM) - This figure is indicates the time a property spent on the market---measured from the moment the property was listed to the point when the seller began contract negotiations.

Year-over-year - This measurement compares the market conditions from the month of the report to the same month the year prior. These statistics give readers a small snap-shot of where the real estate market stands in comparison to last year.

Year-to-date (YTD) - YTD measurements include overall market activity from the beginning of the year (January 1) to the date of the report's publication. Comparing year-to-date numbers for the current year and previous year illustrates how the overall activity seen this year compares to what we saw during the same time period last year.

It's important to use both year-over-year and year-to-date statistics to understand how this year's market compares to last. Year-over-year comparisons are useful in determining how the market is doing during expectantly high or low selling seasons, and big increases or decreases in the percent difference may indicate the influence of abnormal, outside factors and conditions.

Year-to-date figures are often a more meaningful measurement when comparing one year to another. For example, the same MLS report that shows home sales are down 15 percent year-over-year may also show that home sales are up seven percent year-to-date, indicating that the market is actually out-performing the previous year thus far.

Pending Home Sales - This term refers to listings that have sales contracts in the works. As most pending sales are likely to close in the next month, a spike in year-over-year pending home sales suggests we may see an increase in year-over-year sales the next month, although this is never a guarantee.

Month's Supply of Inventory (MSI) - MSI is a calculation of the time it would take to sell the current amount of active listings on the market, based on the average amount of sales made in the past 12 months. The resulting number of the calculation is considered a "leading" indicator of sales activity and market health.

According to the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M, it would take about 6.5 months to sell the average amount of active listings in a balanced market. Anything above 6.5 MSI is considered to be a "buyer's market," while anything below is often considered a "seller's market."

These are just a handful of terms to help you understand what each MLS report conveys about the Austin real estate market. Be sure to speak with your Central Texas REALTOR® to clarify what these statistics mean and how they may affect your transactions, whether you are looking to buy or sell an Austin home. To stay abreast of the most recent market statistics in Central Texas, visit our Austin Real Estate Report section here at

Austin real estate blog
Economic predictions: What’s in store for 2011?

With 2011 just around the corner, many Texans are wondering how the Lone Star State and its capital city will fare economically in the coming year. According to recent predictions from some of Texas' top economists, 2011 looks to be a promising year.

In a recent interview with Smart Business Dallas, Dana Johnson, senior vice president and chief economist at Comerica Bank, predicted that Texas will continue performing above average when compared to the rest of the nation.

"In short, the past success of the Texas economy positions it for more success as a national and global expansion continues to emerge in 2011," said Johnson. "The favorable growth trends in the state will continue to attract businesses and households looking to relocate. Texas' relatively mild housing woes will help sustain its growth advantage, too."

Today, the median price of a Texas home is about 15 percent lower than the rest of the nation. Johnson noted that foreclosure rates in Texas are also lower than the national average, which he believes "should limit further downward pressure on Texas home prices."

For Austin specifically, the economic future is encouraging, as well. In early December, four economists presented their predictions for 2011 at the Austin Chamber of Commerce's annual economic forecast luncheon. The panel consisted of Thomas Gilligan from the University of Texas, James LeSage from Texas State University, Bobby Jenkins (filling in for Thomas Saving) from Texas A&M University and Stephen Gardner of Baylor University. Below are the key points from the event:

  • Three of the four economists predicted that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth would increase between 2.7 and 3 percent, while the fourth economist estimated an increase closer to 5.4 percent.
  • All four economists expected the prime interest rate to be between 3.25 and 4 percent by the end of 2011.
  • The panel unanimously predicted that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate would be between 4.8 and 5.5 percent by December 2011.
  • Regarding job growth in Austin, three of the four economists projected a 2.6 percent increase in jobs, while the fourth economist suggested a 6 percent increase.
  • In terms of job growth statewide, three economists predicted a 2 percent increase, while another proposed a 4 percent increase.

Eager to hear more economic forecasts about 2011? Join the Austin Board of REALTORS® (ABoR) and the Home Builders Association (HBA) of Greater Austin at the 2011 Housing Forecast on January 13. Event attendees will hear from real estate industry experts who will offer their expectations regarding both the local and national economy, as well as market trends for the coming year.

For more information about this event and to purchase your tickets, visit ABoR's 2011 Housing Forecast event page.

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