In my last post (see Updated Austin Market Dashboard, 04/29/11) I focused largely on volatility in unit sales, but emphasized that the Austin/Central Texas real estate market has largely maintained a healthy balance between supply (i.e., listing inventory) and demand (i.e., home sales), which allowed our home values to remain much stronger than many areas over the past four years. This post is intended to highlight that price stability — and growth.
There is no doubt that Central Texas sale volume is down compared to the pre-recession market:
In that look at monthly sales, even though the trend has clearly been downward, typical seasonality was evident in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. Sales in 2009 were distorted by a second tax incentive that was scheduled to end mid-year, but that was extended through September because of concerns that many builders were having difficulty completing contracted homes within the program deadline. Then in 2010, home sales peaked much earlier than in a “normal” year, with a third homebuyer tax credit program that ended June 30. March 2011 showed encouraging strength, without external stimulus.
Using the 12-month rolling average of those sales filters out seasonality and most of the effects of the tax incentives:
This chart of the moving average still includes a bulge in mid-2010 because of the combined effects of the homebuyer tax credits that expired in November 2009 tax credit and June 2010. Still, the trend is obvious, with 2010 running about 30% below sales volumes in much of 2006 and early 2007.
Now, back to the remarkable resilience of home values in the Austin area:
Notice that homebuyer tax incentives more effectively accelerated sales of lower priced homes and the last two incentive programs ended within 7 months of one another, producing a dip in the rolling average sale price. Even with that effect, though, the price trend through the recession and housing downturn was basically flat. Moreover, the 12-month average price reached a new all-time high in March 2011!
I remain convinced that past performance and future indicators support real optimism for Austin and Central Texas residential real estate.