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Market News and Trends

Austin foreclosures up, but compared to what?

Earlier today I posted an article at about the increase in foreclosure postings for the February 1, 2011 auction in the Austin Metro area (Austin area foreclosures jump 14 percent in February ).  Last month I wrote about the contrast in the Austin-area foreclosure rate (10%) compared to the national average (25%), and compared to the U.S. cities with the highest foreclosure rates (27% to 54%) for the first three quarters of 2010.  (See Comparison:  Foreclosure sales in Austin vs. U.S.)

Those reported figures are the percentage of total home sales that were foreclosed properties.  That is an important point of  reference for the general effect of foreclosures on home values and sale prices.  I was also interested in what percentage of households in the area suffered foreclosure last year so I did some research and calculation to find:

residential sales (units) — 2010 — MLS Data Only
of reported foreclosures
units foreclosed
area households (2000 census)
average population growth 2000-2009
households — 2010
of households foreclosed

To save you that last calculation, this amounts to less than 3 households out of 1,000 foreclosed last year in the Austin metro area.

That is less than 1/5 the rate in Nevada.  Moreover, those foreclosures were concentrated in a relatively small number of neighborhoods — largely suburban, entry level to mid-range homes sold new in 2005 to 2007.  Some local market areas experienced a much higher level of distress while many saw little or no effect.  That is likely true in the hardest hit U.S. cities, too, but when the total rate in a metro market is 2 1/2 to 5 times what we saw in Austin it is certain that distressed properties had a much larger effect on property values across the board than we saw here. 

I have not researched that data for other metro areas, but a recent review of Austin/Central Texas sale prices offers evidence that we did not see the magnitude of impact seen in markets where average prices continues to decline in most of 2010, such as Nevada, Arizona, California, Florida, and Michigan:

Another look at Austin/Central Texas home prices

In a world where many news outlets seem intent on putting a pessimistic face on most market information, it is important to look behind published reports.  My objective is not to present an exagerratedly optimistic viewpoint, but only to provide context.   Today’s local report about properties scheduled for February foreclosure auctions made much about the “high” level of foreclosures in the Austin metro area, but relative to metro population or compared to cities where the housing downturn hit much harder, Austin doesn’t look so bad.

About Bill Morris, Realtor

Many years of business experience (high tech, client service, business organization and start-up, including almost 20 years in real estate) tell me that service is the key to success and I look forward to serving you. I represent both buyers and sellers throughout the Austin metropolitan area, which means first-hand market knowledge is brought to bear on serving your needs. Learn more about my background and experience, my commitment to my clients, my profession, and to the real estate industry at


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