February housing sales strong, REALTORS® adapt amid COVID-19.
Historically low interest rates add another variable to housing market.
AUSTIN, Texas – The Austin Board of REALTORS® (ABoR) February 2020 market analysis showed a 6.8% increase in residential home sales in the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and a 12.8% increase in median sales price to $327,140. While sales increased from 2,363 homes in February 2019 to 2,524 homes last month, new listings decreased 11.8% year-over-year, and inventory dropped to 1.5 months of inventory, painting the picture of Austin's historically competitive housing market and high demand. With the impact of COVID-19 beginning to take hold, it's uncertain how social distancing will affect the way the market continues to operate.
“Historically low interest rates are a driver in the market response we saw in February and will continue to act as a driver despite our shared concerns over the impact of COVID-19 in our community,” Romeo Manzanilla, 2020 ABoR president, said.
Manzanilla said there are a number of tools and best practices that ensure REALTORS® can continue to serve Central Texas home buyers and sellers safely as we all make changes to accommodate the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines.
“REALTORS® will work to provide a new homebuying and selling experience in these times. Expanded visual libraries, interactive floor plans and virtual tours are tools that matter more than ever in this climate. The housing market is absolutely still open for business, but the business of real estate is evolving like we all are through this experience,” Manzanilla concluded.
Austin’s economy and housing market could be well positioned to minimize the potentially negative impact of COVID-19, Mark Sprague, state director of information capital for Independence Title, said.
“Austin’s economy has diversified and strengthened over the past two decades. This leads me to be optimistic that our region is in a strong position to withstand economic downturns that may have a greater impact nationally,” Sprague said. “Effects will still be felt, especially by those who depend on each paycheck to pay their bills and provide for their families, and that cannot be discounted.”
According to Sprague, despite the current uncertainty, buyers are still eager to close sales in Austin.
“Current indicators are that Austin’s housing market remains strong and competitive. Any decrease in inventory would only increase competitiveness in our market. Overall, Austin’s economy and housing market look to be resilient during this uncertain time. Once COVID-19 subsides, there is a potential for even more investment by employers in the Austin market, and I would expect those looking for a more affordable cost of living compared to other major U.S. metropolitan areas will still look to move to and buy homes in Austin,” he concluded.