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Austin-area home sales see dip in July, but prices continue to rise

This is the first time home sales have decreased since May 2020.

AUSTIN, Texas — The latest report from the Austin Board of Realtors (ABoR) has revealed a decrease in home sales – the first time that has happened since May 2020.

The report showed a 9.9% decrease in home sales for the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) through July. Despite that dip, the five-county MSA was only 445 homes short of breaking the all-time sales record set in July of last year.

“July 2020 established the all-time-high watermark for home sales in the region due to pent-up housing demand after several months of stay-at-home orders and increased consumer purchasing power,” Susan Horton, ABoR president, said. “As we have moved away from the post-COVID boom, the market has begun to stabilize. The typical seasonality for the summer returned as people re-engaged in other activities, including travel. There are fewer instances of dozens of offers over list price even as home prices continue to rise, albeit at a slower rate month to month than the surge experienced in the first half of the year.”

While home sales may have decreased to 4,041, the median sales price rose 37.1% year over year to $480,000, which was a record for the month of July. The sales dollar volume also increase 20.7% year over year to $2,409,491,114.

Local Realtor Kerrie Carter-Walker said she's seeing fewer offers per home, but her client, Carl Johnson, had to bid on a few homes before being selected. 

"I even was bidding like $40,000 over, $50,000, but we were getting out-bided like it wasn't nothing," said Johnson. "They get the customers in a bidding war and the home's not even built yet. They tell you, 'Can't change this. You can't change that.'"

Carter-Walker predicts the market will continue to shift in the buyer's favor.

"If you can afford it, I would definitely say, 'Buyers get back out there, but if you can hold off and wait a little bit longer, give yourselves about six months to a year and then jump back in,'" said Carter-Walker. 

She's also seeing a trend of staged homes selling faster than the others. She said at the start of 2021, it didn't matter. 

This month, Johnson bought a four-bedroom home in Hutto for over $500,000. He paid more than $40,000 over the asking price. 

"The backyard is huge, like huge," said Johnson. "I say it's worth it."

Another dip was found in the monthly housing inventory. It decreased 0.8 months to 0.9 months of inventory. While ABoR said inventory remains under a healthy average, it has slightly increased since the first half of the year.

Housing experts say that although the home-buying frenzy may appear to have calmed down compared to this time last year, it's unlikely prices will go down anytime soon.

"Austin is always considered one of the top places to live in the U.S., but we’re losing ground due to shrinking housing inventory and affordability," said Vaike O'Grady, regional director of MetroStudy. "With construction delays and regulatory barriers, builders and developers are having increasing difficulty getting new homes on the ground. Because of that, there’s not enough supply coming to the market to significantly impact available inventory, which further pushes prices up. Looking ahead, there will likely only be new inventory available further out in the suburbs; meaning, other submarkets may gain traction over Austin."

ABoR said that new listings in July increased 8.2% to 5,166; active listings dropped 36.9% year over year to 3,294 listings; and pending sales fell 11% to 3,900 listings. Analysts added that homes only spent an average of 12 days on market last month across the area.

Horton said that Austin isn't alone.

"Seasonality has a hand in the increasing home sales growth across our region and nationally," she said. "Compared to the early pandemic days, the pace of homebuying activity has slowed across the U.S. If you’re looking to buy or rent a home, don’t miss this opportunity to take advantage of the market’s slower pace. If you’re looking to sell, don’t mistake this dip as a cooldown – it’s still an excellent time to sell a home."

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