Strong housing market forecast for Austin

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by QUITA CULPEPPER / KVUE News and Photojournalist DAVID GARDNER

kvue.com

Posted on January 8, 2013 at 7:11 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 8 at 7:21 PM

AUSTIN -- There's good news for builders and others involved in the Central Texas housing industry. The forecast for this year is looking promising. In fact, Austin is leading the nation when it comes to growth.

For the hundreds of realtors and builders gathered at the Renaissance hotel Tuesday morning, 2013 looks to be a very profitable year.

“Their businesses were better in 2012 and likely will be better in 2013," said Eldon Rude, the director of Metrostudy, which examines the supply and demand for housing in Central Texas.

Rude says this year, the housing market is expected to remain strong, and home prices are on the rise.

“My forecast is that we probably have between 9,500 and 10,000 new single-family housing starts in Austin in 2013, so certainly another increase from a year ago,” Rude said.

Thousands of new jobs coming to the area are the reason why.

“We've created annually about 35,000 new jobs in the Austin region, which had a lot to do with fueling increasing demand for housing,” said Rude.

The new homes are being built across the area -- a majority in Southwest Austin, Cedar Park, Leander, and Round Rock.

This year, Rude expects an increasing number of renters to buy homes and take advantage of historically low interest rates.

“Interest rates are in the three to four percent range,” Rude said. “It's the lowest rates we've seen in the mortgage business in decades.”

Some experts say Austin comes in at number four on a list of cities in the country when it comes to growth and job prospects.

“We have an educated workforce," said Dr. Jay Hartzell, the chair of finance at the McCombs School of Business. “It's viewed as a healthy climate for business. Companies like to be here. It's a low cost of living compared to our California counterparts.”

But with the building boom come other challenges.

“When I talk to my builder customers they tell me in the last six to nine months they're seeing some shortages in labor and shortages in materials as well, which is ultimately increasing pricing in labor and materials, which goes right into higher home prices," Rude said.

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