Realtors warn of dangers of increasing home prices

Central Texas has gone through a population boom the past few years, meaning homes are in demand and house prices keep rising.

AUSTIN - From beautiful views to bustling business, people are moving to Central Texas for countless reasons. But once they arrive, they're facing something that's as appealing as rush hour traffic.

“The population influx has been basically increasing our sales price and demand for many, many years,” said Steve Crorey, the president-elect for the Austin Board of Realtors.

He’s worked in the industry for nearly 25 years, and has witnessed the growth of the area.

“It was a lot cheaper to live here 25 years ago,” Crorey joked.

Over the past few years, those price increases have been jarring.

Comparing August 2015 to August 2017 numbers, median home prices in Travis County have jumped from $306,101 to $350,000.

The increase has also affected areas of Central Texas that have traditionally been viewed as more affordable.

Over the same time period, prices have increased from $244,986 to $275,000 in Williamson County, and from $234,950 to $260,450 in Hays County.

“There's a group of people that are not able to buy homes in areas they need to live and work, and so it will eventually deteriorate our city,” explained Cara Keenan, a native Austinite and Realtor with Realty Austin.

The firm is working with Habitat for Humanity, attempting to highlight the need for affordable housing options throughout the city.

“If there are jobs, and people aren't able to live near their jobs or get to their jobs, those businesses fail,” said Keenan.

According to Payscale, a salary information company, the Austin metro area has seen wage growth of three percent year over year, which lags behind home price increases.

It's an unwelcome reception for buyers.

“I hear it every day: concerns about increasing prices, decreasing affordability,” explained Jeffrey Schnabel, a broker associate with Realty Austin.

“I think it would be considered a normal healthy market for two to three to four percent increase every year, but we’re not able to sustain, nine,10 percent increases like we saw a year or two ago,” added Crorey.

While prices are still increasing, Schnabel said buyers have recently seen some relief.

“Good news is, they’ve tempered somewhat," he explained. "Over the past 12 months, year-over-year, we’re seeing about a 4.6 percent increase. That’s more normal for a market. The average over a 20-, 30-year span is about 4.4 percent a year,” said Schnabel.

Schnabel adds historic trends would also point towards price increases eventually slowing down.

“Since 2008, we’re on a nine-year trend of increasing prices," he said. "The longest time that we’ve gone on increasing prices over a 25-year period is about eight years. So we’re due for a correction of some sort."

According to the real estate site Zillow, Austin has the highest median listing prices amongst the state’s four major cities. In Austin, the media listing price is $389,900; in Dallas it’s $389,000; in Houston it’s $325,000; and in San Antonio it’s $240,992.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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