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Bill Morris
RE/MAX Capital City
13018 Research Blvd
Austin, TX 78750

Direct or Text: 512-785-3345
Email:              bmorris@remax.net

Texas Broker License # 505218

We take pride in our homes.  For most of us, our home is our largest physical and financial asset.  It's where we spend time with friends and family, where we may go for peace and quiet, and where we spend a lot of our hard-earned money.  It is much more than shelter, more than a residence.  It is "our place," with all the physical, mental, and emotional ties that implies.

Investment real estate shouldn't carry the emotional attachments of a home, but it can be a critical source of income and financial growth.  Financial assets -- stocks, bonds, etc. -- are an important foundation for many investors.  Real estate can provide more stability, current income, and predictable long-term growth.

I represent both buyers and sellers of residential and investment real estate throughout the Austin metropolitan area, which means first-hand market knowledge is brought to bear on serving your needs:

  • My relationship with a home seller begins with a thorough understanding of the client's objectives, needs, and timing. My ongoing analysis of properties and market areas throughout Central Texas provides the basis for a comprehensive analysis of each client's home.  Price consultation, property preparation and staging, and broad promotion of each property follow, and frequent communication -- showing feedback, market updates, and ongoing advice and counsel -- round out a successful listing engagement.  As a starting point, just ask me for a FREE Market Analysis. That may answer your immediate questions, or it could become the basis of a more comprehensive discussion.  That choice is yours.
  • My approach to buyer representation is also full service – shopping, previewing, price and market consultation, contracting, negotiating, coordination of inspections, appraisals, repairs, and closing details, and follow-up beyond the closing of your purchase to ensure your lasting satisfaction.  Looking for a new home?  Use Quick Search or Map Search to browse an up-to-date database of all available properties in the area, or use my Dream Home Finder form and I'll conduct a personalized search for you.

In both roles, honest advice and clear communication are what my clients expect.  The fact that more than 90% of my business is with repeat clients and their referred friends and family is a sign of success in meeting those expectations.  Client ratings that earned my selection for 6 consecutive years as a Five Star Professional -- representing less than 7% of Central Texas agents -- are also very gratifying, and humbling.

As you consider selling or buying Central Texas real estate, you'll find a lot of information on this website that can help.  Much of it is updated regularly, so come back often:

  • National and regional Market Trends is a thorough monthly e-newsletter you'll enjoy.
  • Average Mortgage Rates are up-to-date weekly.
  • As often as time allows, I update My Thoughts ...  on topics that I find important and interesting.
  • You'll also find regular market news on my Facebook and Twitter pages.

You'll find a details About Me and my approach to the practice of the real estate profession, and about why I am proud to be affiliated with RE/MAX and RE/MAX Capital City.

My business and personal experience tell me that service is the key to success and I look forward to serving you.

 

My Thoughts on Central Texas Real Estate

Another expert agrees

You’ve read my thoughts about where Austin area residential real estate market is in this market cycle [Thoughts on this Market Cycle (October 2018) and Yes, Austin is different (January 2019)].

Last week, Eldon Rude (Principal, 360o Real Estate Analytics) discussed his very similar thoughts:

Expert: Central Texas housing market in for another strong year

The theme of his remarks was that “… the Central Texas region will continue to see strong housing demand from anticipated robust job growth. But he noted that ‘there are some headwinds with respect to buyer confidence that we haven’t faced in a while’….”

I’ll keep you updated as 2019 progresses and we get more information about actual market performance this year, but I agree that we’ll see demand continue even as the pace of price appreciation slows.

 

 

Yes, Austin is different …

In a previous post (Is Austin different?) I noted that the Austin area’s residential real estate market continues to expand even as much of the United States has slowed.  The reason is that our expansion is driven by job creation and population growth — real demand.  For the same reasons I have long argued against concerns that we were creating a “bubble” in our market that would inevitably reach a breaking point and crash.  Our growth is not due to “creative” mortgage financing and minimum credit requirements like those that led to the Great Recession in 2007-2008, nor to the kind of “irrational exuberance” that Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan described in the years leading up the Dot-Com Bust and the previous recession.

Here’s a recent article about the relative health of our local/regional economy now:

Dallas Fed: Austin economy still expanding at solid pace

If you live in or near Austin, you know that construction is everywhere — residential, commercial, transportation, recreational, etc.  The city of Austin and especially the urban core, are increasingly expensive, but with the caveat that sprawl will eventually be self-limiting regional in-migration remains strong.  The article linked above notes that signs of an economic slowdown are present elsewhere in Texas, but Austin’s annualized economic growth through November was well above our long-term average and approaching strength last seen almost three years ago.  Moreover, Austin’s 2.8% unemployment rate remains well below the national and state-wide numbers.

For readers who want more details straight from the Dallas Fed, here you go:

Austin Economic Indicators – Dallasfed.org

I commented in my last post that residential building permits were down in recent months and that new home construction still lags the peak pace we saw in 2006.  In spite of being under-supplied, however, our metro-area market remains only slightly less affordable than the national average (as measured by the percentage of homes sold that were affordable by a median-income family).

I have written for months that there are signs of market resistance to the fast pace of home price increases, but many indicators should instill confidence that our housing market may be in a time of transition toward “normal,” not toward a downturn.  More to come on that …

 

Is Austin different?

The national media has recently been reporting that the real estate market has “stalled.”  As an example, here is an Associated Press article from last weekend:

  Economists: Buyers face tougher housing market in 2019

Compare that to the latest market statistics from the Austin Board of REALTORS®:

Austin-area housing market on track for record-breaking sales

For several months, I have suggested that a market shift may be in process.  Resistance to rapidly increasing home prices became more apparent in recent months, but “Days to Sell” (the average time sold homes were on the market)  have been trending upward for five years and year-over-year increases in average prices have been trending downward at the same time.  (See Thoughts on this Market Cycle – Trends to Watch.)  To clarify that last comment, average sale prices in the Austin metro area are still increasing, but they’re increasing more slowly than they did earlier in this market boom.

As the Austin-area residential real estate market climbed out of the last recession in 2012 and 2013, growth in both unit sales (houses, condos, and townhouses) and in aggregate dollar volume of home sales skyrocketed.  Growth in unit sales have been much more moderated since 2014, but sale prices continued to increase so rapidly that the total dollar volume continued to escalate quickly:

In each of the past five years, growth in sales volume was consistently twice or more the pace of unit sales — even in 2018.  The decline in both metrics over the past couple of years is noticeable, but the most striking change isn’t visible in those annualized numbers:  December of 2018 was VERY different.  We don’t have “final” figures for December, but based on raw MLS data, both dollar volume and unit sales increased (year over year) every December from 2011 through 2017, but in December of 2018 both were DOWN more than 17% from the previous year!

By way of explanation the AP report above notes, interest rates have been rising during the past year, but that effect was not especially noticeable in the monthly data for the Austin metropolitan area.  Those who watch the stock market watched significant reaction to domestic and international economic uncertainties, but the vast majority of buyers who contracted for those December closings didn’t know that was coming when they made their purchase decisions in November.  The comparison between rising incomes and rising housing costs is real and it is certainly a factor in the Austin area, but the continuous addition of high-paying jobs here moderates that effect compared to some other locales.

The report from the Austin Board of REALTORS® is more narrowly focused on Central Texas, but it covers activity only through November.  It is true, however, that sales volume in the Austin metro area totaled about $12.5 billion, a new record — driven more by increasing sale prices than by unit sales.  In that article, you can see that housing costs in the city of Austin continue to drive many buyers to the suburbs, and that is likely to continue.  Unfortunately, as busy as home builders have been demand continues to outpace supply, with permits and new starts in 2017 and 2018 still lower than our regional peak in 2006.

If job creation and population growth continue this year at or near their recent pace, the market will be challenged to provide enough housing for new Austinites, and the supply-demand imbalance we’ve experienced in recent years will continue.  If resistance to higher home prices and/or longer commutes cause growth to slow, then supply could make some gains.  Absent disruptions in the larger economy, our regional market should find move toward equilibrium over time, leading us to a continuing healthy market environment and a gradual return to balance that we haven’t experienced in recent years.

I will update you with my market dashboard for all of 2018 when refined December data is available in a couple of weeks, but for now I’ll note that even though sales were down in December so was new listing activity.  Inventory appears to have been at a six-month low at the end of the year.  I continue to expect some flattening of the Austin-area market in 2019, but January and the first quarter will tell us whether December’s drop was just exaggerated holiday seasonality or a sign of more to come.

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