Realtors: Slim pickings for affordable housing in Williamson County

Austin's struggle for affordable housing is nothing new, but now it's starting to really hit Williamson County too

According to the Williamson County Association of Realtors latest report, in May 2017, 57.7 percent of homes sold were under $300,000.

"This is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home, just over 1,700 square feet,” said Jack Stapleton a realtor with Texas Realty.

Stapleton has been a realtor in Central Texas for 15 years and showed KVUE one of his current listings in Williamson County.

“A full-size master bedroom, coming in through here, the double doors again, wheelchair access,” said Stapleton.

The home he showed KVUE in Pflugerville is listed at $180,000. It's a price range that’s difficult to find.

"I see a lot of buyers trying to get a home and just not able to,” said Stapleton.

Stapleton says he’s seen a shortage of homes under the $200,000 price mark.

According to the Realtor’s Association's latest report, in May, there was an increase of housing inventory of 2.5 months compared to 0.6 months this time last year, but there were also only 119 homes listed under $200,000 dollars on the market.

"I've got a client I've been trying to sell a home for a year, nothing, there's nothing for them,” said Stapleton.

He said they have more inventory of new builder homes listed over the $350,000 price mark.

"We’re saturated with that inventory,” said Stapleton.

According to the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M, the median home price in Williamson County in 2011 was $172,000 dollars, now its $280,000.

Stapleton said the market is the most difficult for first-time home buyers, who typically look between $175,000 and $250,000 dollars.

"It's those first time home buyers that don't have the cash to bring to the table and they can't bid over list price, they're over and overbidding on homes and losing out on multiple offer situations and it’s pretty disappointing," said Stapleton. "Your first time home buyer usually doesn't have a lot of cash reserves."

So, instead, he said they’ve seen a shift towards renting.

"There's a lot of those people that would be buying homes. And if there were homes to sell them, we could sell them all day long; but there's nothing to sell them... So, they're just moving into apartments,” said Stapleton.

On average, a home in Williamson county spends 43 days on the market, according to the Realtors Association report. But, they said the homes listed between $200,000 and $250,000 dollars, only last for about 20 days.

Stapleton said he's seen homes go off the market in minutes.

"Something needs to change, either the buyers are going to move further away, or someone is going to start creating affordable housing,” said Stapleton. "I think we need to be looking for affordable housing solutions, because that buyer is not going away."

Right now, he said even when he shows an affordable home to a potential buyer, there's not always love at first sight.

"It's mixed. You know people want an emotional attachment with their home. So most people when they think of the dream of homeownership, they're thinking of something that's prettied up and new and excited about... It’s hard to get excited sometimes about a home that's not polished up, in the $180 price range," said Stapleton. "With as much limited inventory as we have --the market reality  -- when they're wanting to go out and get emotionally attached to a home, and they're wanting to fall in love with it and this be their home, you know a lot of those homes aren't in the condition of falling in love with."

So he hopes someone will build a supply, for the growing demand.

"Tiny homes, multifamily homes, smaller condos, something hovering in the $200,000 price range but right now there's nothing for them," said Stapleton.

Even though he knows that can be a difficult reality for builders.

"Land is the new gold, and land is getting more and more expensive, so for a builder to even build a 1,600 square foot home under $200,000 is almost impossible," said Stapleton.

He doesn’t see a change in the market anytime soon.

"There’s no change in sight, even if the economy were to slip, we still have people moving here and they still have to have housing and so we're going to continue to see -- even if the number of sales go down -- we'll still see the value in the prices go up," said Stapleton. "In the next couple of months, I don't see much of a change. I still see the pricing increasing, and people just being frustrated trying to get into the market. Something needs to change, either the buyers are going to move further away, or someone is going to start creating affordable housing."

Even with a difficult market, he still urges for people to buy instead of rent.

"It's still better to buy than rent. When you purchase a home you get exemptions like homestead... homestead saves you on taxes,” said Stapleton.

You can find the Williamson County Association of Realtors Report here

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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