Austin housing market sees unprecedented growth

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by ASHLEY GOUDEAU / KVUE News and Photojournalist CHRIS SHADROCK

Bio | Email | Follow: @AshleyG_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on January 8, 2014 at 5:57 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 8 at 7:15 PM

AUSTIN -- In Austin you don't have to go far to find a house for sale or a new house being built.

"We've got great employment, a lot of great companies coming to town, and it's creating huge job growth and in turn great housing," said John Sparrow, president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin (HBA). 

In 2013, more than 30,000 homes were sold in the Austin area -- a level not seen since 2007. 

"Average sale prices are up eight percent over last year. Average sale price is $285,000 now," added Eric Copper, broker associate for Austin Portfolio Real Estate. 

Also increasing is the number of permits issued to build new houses. In 2013 the number of permits issued was the highest since 2008 at nearly 9,000. It's a fact that's keeping home builders busy.

"Since probably November of 2012 is when it really started to move forward a lot, and this year's just been non stop," Sparrow said. "It's been a freight train that we're just trying to hang on to and keep going."

The housing train isn't showing signs of stopping. Wednesday the Austin Board of Realtors (ABOR) and HBA hosted a breakfast with real estate industry analysts to forecast the housing market for this year.

"2014's going to be another strong year in Austin," said ABOR President Bill Evans. "Market trends are going to continue up, home sales are going to increase, new home starts are going to increase and the value of a home is going to increase, so it's a win-win for everybody."

When a house is purchased, the economic impact reaches far beyond the seller and realtor.

"You've got construction, interior design, you've got furniture. It impacts everything. It bleeds into the economy in so many different ways," said Copper. 

But building and selling more houses in Austin can also have drawbacks.

"Increase in interest rates, increase in house sales, you know, slight increase in house prices," said Sparrow. 

Real estate experts are also issuing some caution with this forecast. They say traffic, the ongoing drought and rising cost of houses could, at some point, cause this increase in sales to take a dive in the other direction. However they also point out the city and state are working on these problems.

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