Austin Appreciation – A Perspective

Most of the homes sold in a real estate market sell at prices around the median, or middle-point. Movement of the median price reveals the flow and direction of the market. The chart below shows median prices at year end, over 14 years:

Median Price (single family homes, not including condos, multifamily, or lots):

———–Median—-% Change

2001—- 153,000—- 4%

2002—- 157,000—-3%

2003—- 157,000—-(0)

2004—- 155,000—-(-1%)

2005—- 164,000—-6%

2006—- 174,500—-6%

2007—- 185,000—-6%

3.4% (7 year average)

2008—- 189,500—-2%

2009—- 188,480—-(-1%)

2010—- 193,520—-2%

2011—- 193,000—-(0)

2012—- 205,000—-6%

2013—- 223,890—-9%

2014—- 230,000—-6% year to date

3.4% (7 year average)

The years between 2001 – 2007 included a downturn ( Bust) and a return to normal. The median price experienced an average growth of 3.4% during that period.

The years between 2008 – 2014 included a downturn (the Great Recession) and return to normal. Again the median price experienced an average growth of 3.4% during that period.

The appreciation rates noted here include all MLS areas in and around Austin. The percent of change each year expresses a general trend, and is not a number that applies to every property.

Here are some questions and answers that come to mind:

What would our median price be if we had not experienced the and Great Recession downturns, but had a steady 6% appreciation over the past 14 years?

A 6% increase each year for the past 14 years would have brought our median price to $326,338 today. It is currently at a more affordable $230,000.

What effect will the current low inventory have on the median price?
The shortage of homes is evident to all who work and participate in the real estate market. Inventory is at an unprecedented low. Homebuyers are having to compete for homes, often offering over list price. Low inventory with high demand is a fundamental driver of appreciation – prices will move up when demand exceeds supply.

What appreciation rate can we expect in Austin over the next 5 years?
Mark Sprague allowed me pick his brain while he recoups from knee surgery. According to Mark, “Appreciation in Austin ranges between 5%-9% during growth periods.” We think that 9% appreciation is predictable for 2014 and 2015. At least 6% appreciation for the following three years is likely.

To quote Mark Sprague again, “If we see 3 years of double digit appreciation in a row, we are moving into a bubble. Double digit appreciation is not sustainable, and a retreat by buyers will cause the market to self correct.”

Is there plenty of land for builders to increase the inventory of new homes in Austin?
No. Almost all large areas that are close-in have been developed. Large close-in tracts (such as Steiner Ranch, Circle C, Lakeway area, Mueller, Pioneer Crossing, etc.) are virtually built out. Close-in Austin is full. As Austin grows in population, central parts will become more in demand and more valuable. People want to avoid traffic and be able to drive downtown and to other cool places in Austin. We see high demand and price increases in close-in East Austin, as well as all close-in north and south parts of the city. Westlake and central neighborhoods are prized locations more than ever.

Will builders add lots of new homes and overload the inventory?
Builders usually take about 25% market share, so that is normal. Large builders are building as fast as they can in suburban areas, but there are few spec homes – all are sold. Development work lagged during the recession, so lots are in short supply. The shortage of lots will lead to higher home prices in suburban areas, which will ripple in to central Austin.

Within Austin, we will see a surge of building in older areas by small builders. In-fill, gentrification, remodeling, and tear downs will supply nice homes to some of the 110 people who move here every day. We will eventually reach a saturation point, but this is not imminent.

Will a crisis or slow down reverse our appreciation over the next 5 years?
It is possible that an unknown calamity will arise, but we tend to be optimistic about the investment quality of homes in Austin.

Give us a call – Send and Email

More than 30 years in Austin real estate has taught us that service is the key to success, and we look forward to serving you. A big thank-you to all of you who have sent us friends and associates who need to buy or sell houses! Keep sending!

Roselind Hejl, CRS
Coldwell Banker United Realtors
512-327-0385 – Direct
512-789-4563 – Cell

2013 3rd Quarter Austin Update


Real Estate Market:

The   3rd Quarter is usually a quieter time in real estate.  We normally see a   slowdown in this part of the year as people settle into school and   holidays.  However the fall of 2013 has kept up the pace:  Sales   for September were 2,391 – almost equal to sales for June – 2,767.    There was only a 13% drop in sales between June to September, compared to a   normal 25-30% decline.

A   hot market means that months of inventory are low.  Central Austin   averages 1.9 months of inventory; close in Suburban areas average 1.8 months   of inventory; and outer Suburban areas average 3.9 months of inventory.    You can see supply levels and median prices here:



It   has been a strong year in Austin, with steady job growth fueling an increase in demand from both newcomers and local move up buyers.  Demand for homes has been driven by real need – not an investor mindset, looking for quick profit.  But, as predicted, strong demand and low inventory has  brought price appreciation.  Prices have moved up by about 8% over the   past year.  Now, in the fourth quarter, prices appear to have stabilized  and leveled off.

Interest Rates:

The  news in the third quarter was interest rates.  They inched up to 4.75% in September.  Since then, they have fallen to 4.375%.

These   are still very good rates in a historical sense, and worth locking in.    Robert Shiller, professor of economics at Yale, says, “Affordability is   still good compared to any time over the last 50 years.  Mortgage rates   are still around 4½ percent; that’s not high. Homes are still roughly, in   real terms, where they were 25 to 50 years ago.”

Downtown Condos:

We   have several buyers for downtown condos, and have been keeping tabs on this   inventory.  It has really tightened up this year:

On the Market:  61 condos in MLS

Under   $500,000 – 34 condos

Between   $500,000 – 1,000,000 – 19 condos

Between   $1M – $3M – 8 condos

(The  Austonian has some new inventory, not in MLS.  Also, the Seaholm Condos  are scheduled for completion in 2015, however all 280 units have been reserved.)

Sold in past 12 months:  324 (27 per month)

Under   $500,000 – 1.8 months of inventory

Between   $500,000 – 1,000,000 – 3.1 months of inventory

 Between   $1M – $3M – 4.37 months of inventory

Still Affordable:

Praxis Strategy Group   studied the cities that have generated STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) jobs at the fastest rate over the last 12   years.  The results?

“In   first place: Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, Texas, where tech companies have expanded employment by 41% since 2001 and the number of STEM workers has   risen by 17% over the same period. Looking at the near-term, 2010-13, the   Austin metro area also ranks first in the nation.  The keys to Austin’s   success lies largely in its affordability and high quality of life, both in   its small urban core and rapidly expanding suburbs.”

With interest rates and prices still   affordable, it’s a great time to get into the market and be a part of   Austin’s success.

Give us a call – send an email

Roselind Hejl, Realtor


More than 30 years in Austin real estate   has taught us that service is the key to success, and we look   forward to serving you. A big thank-you to all of you who have sent us   friends and associates who need to buy or sell houses! Keep sending!

Roselind Hejl, CRS

Matthew Hejl, Realtor

Coldwell Banker United Realtors

512-327-0385 – Direct

512-789-4563 – Cell

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Austin Real Estate Market – 2nd Quarter 2013

Real Estate Market:

It’s summertime, and the living  has been easy for Austin home sellers!  Inventory is tight and buyers are  competing harder than ever to get their contracts accepted.

Prices have inched up, as have  interest rates.  But neither has been high enough to impact demand.   The market has absorbed the increases.  It is true that the overall Austin  market has risen to 2.9 months of inventory, from 2.1 in our 1st Quarter  analysis.  However, this reflects a seasonal increase in inventory that  happens every spring and summer.  This the most active time of year for  real estate, as families try to transition in between school years.

Some of our clients ask,  “Are we experiencing a housing bubble in Austin?”  The national  housing bubble from 2004 – 2007 was fueled by speculation and sub-prime lending  to unqualified buyers.  It burst when foreclosures began to happen.   Demand for homes in Austin is fueled by job creation.  New buyers open the  door for locals to upgrade, downsize, or make job changes.

Builders have ramped up their production, but they are finding  plumbers and carpenters with full schedules and building materials in short  supply.  So, new homes are not coming on fast enough to soften the market.   It will take a few years for the market to even out between supply and  demand for homes.

Austin Inventory Levels:

See how neighborhoods compare – Austin Neighborhood Data

A Quick Look at Some of  Austin’s Hottest Areas:

These areas all have inventory  levels below 1 month.  With median prices from $250K-399K, these areas  offer relatively affordable central options in a city that is rapidly becoming  more expensive.

Allandale, Crestview,  Brentwood area:  Rising prices in Hyde Park, Rosedale, and Brykerwoods  neighborhoods have pushed buyers north of Koenig Lane.  Here there are  charming homes available in the $300k range.  (MLS Area 2)

Windsor Park, Mueller,  Maplewood, Delwood, University Hills area:   Part of the East Austin boom and gentrification.  These older  neighborhoods offer midcentury modern homes on big lots with slab  foundations.  They are ideal for remodeling in today’s retro style. (MLS  Area 3)

Circle C, Western Oaks,  Legend Oaks, Westcreek:  Circle C and surrounding  neighborhoods remain a very strong investment.  Newer homes, convenient  retail, and wonderful community amenities make this an ideal spot for folks who  want affordable space.  (MLS Area SWW)

Austin’s Population:

2000 – 656,562 residents                 2010 – 790,390 residents                 2013 – 842,750 residents                 2024/2025 – Austin Demographer  Ryan Robinson predicts 1,000,000 residents.

As Austin’s population swells in the next ten years, downtown will  feature more high rises and suburban neighborhoods will sprawl around the  outskirts. A steady influx of new residents should continue to foster healthy  long term appreciation. With interest rates and prices still relatively low,  now is a great time to get into the market and be a part of Austin’s growth.

If you  have a real estate question, please feel free to call or email.

A big thank-you to all of you who have sent us friends and associates who  need to buy or sell houses!  Keep sending!

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July 2012 Update: Austin Market Heats Up


Austin was named #2 in “Top 10 Cities People Are Moving To” by Fiscal Times.  Buyers are flooding the market.  Confidence is high.   Mortgage rates are low.  2012 is proving to be a great year for Austin real estate.  Austin’s inventory level at mid-year is just 4.1 months – an overall seller’s market.

Inventory levels in Austin, area by area:

See how neighborhoods compare:  Inventory levels by local areas

There are many neighborhoods where inventory has dropped below 3 months.  For example, Area 7 (Barton Hills) would deplete all inventory in 1.35 months if no new listings came on the market.  Central south Austin is down to 1.62 months, and southwest Austin is at 1.89 months of supply.  Basically, all mid priced homes in central and close-in suburban areas are in tight supply.  We are seeing multiple offers for homes that are priced and presented well.

Upper priced homes generally take longer to sell.  In the “over $800K” range, supply varies from 9 months to several years of inventory, depending on the area.


These have not been a large part of our market, and appear to have peaked in 2010.

2012 (mid year) – 3.06%

2011 – 4.25%

2010 – 5.00%

2009 – 3.75%

Some comparisons with the month of June, 2011:

Single-family homes sold:  23% more than June 2011.

Median price for single-family homes:  8% more than June 2011.

Average number of days on the market:  17 days less than June 2011.

New homes on market:  8% percent more than June 2011.

Active listings on market:  20%  less than June 2011.

Pending sales:  15% more than June 2011.

Mortgage Rates:

The federal government continues to hold down rates in order to stimulate the economy.  If you are a homebuyer or investor, loan rates have simply never been better.  There was a time when 10% was considered a very low rate (after a period of up to 19%).

Compare payments on a $300,000 (30 year) loan:

10% interest –  $2,633 monthly

5% interest – $1,610 monthly

3.8% interest – 1,397 monthly

Another way of putting it is to say that, today $2,633 will cover the payment on a $565,000 loan, versus the $300,000 loan you could get at 10%.  The low cost of money makes this a great time to get into a home.

“A little tail wind is a lot better than a headwind,” says economist Chip Case, of Case-Shiller.  In Austin we have a lot of tail wind!


Roselind Hejl, CRS

Matthew Hejl, Realtor

Coldwell Banker United Realtors

512-327-0385 – Direct

512-789-4563 – Cell

Austin Market January, 2012: Inventory is the Story

Our end-of-year look at the at the Austin real estate market tells a simple story – demand is exceeding supply. The overall months of inventory for the Austin area is at 3.61. By comparison, 2010 ended the year with 5.1 months of inventory; 2009 ended with 4.6 months. We have moved from a balanced market into seller’s market range for most areas.

Newcomers moving in and investors attracted by low interest rates have put steady pressure on inventories in all parts of Austin. Jed Kolko, Trulia’s chief economist recently offered this prediction: “The bloom’s not off the yellow rose of Texas. Steady job growth and a construction revival make Austin and Houston two of my five cities to watch. Texas isn’t hung over from the housing boom like the other big states of the South and West, so there’s little to hold back growth. “
Austin was Kolko’s top pick for growth cities to watch. And, a look at the inventory levels throughout Austin shows that he is right on the money.

Inventory Levels

Inner Core Neighborhoods: 75% seller’s market; 25% balanced markets.

Close in Suburban Neighborhoods: 94% seller’s markets; 6% balanced markets.

Outer Suburban Neighborhoods: 42% seller’s markets; 37% balanced markets; 21% buyer’s markets

See more detail by areas here: Months of Inventory by Area


Demographics are on our side. There are 1.763 million people in the Austin area. By 2020 this is expected to increase by 31% to 2.3 million. To supply an additional 198,000 households, assuming that 50% buy homes, we need 99,444 new homes. This means we need 11,000 new homes per year over the next 9 years. In actuality, builders supplied 5,900 new homes in 2010 and 6,100 in 2011, and production is estimated at 6,500 for 2012.

So, we expect that job and population growth, plus investors who prefer real estate over the more volatile stock market, will continue to fuel the demand side.

Tempering Factors

On the other hand, there are certain forces that have moderated and slowed down the demand side.
First, there is the backlog of foreclosures held back by legal issues and botched paperwork. There is also shadow inventory – loans in default that will be foreclosures or short sales. These will continue to add to inventory and hold down prices. But, not to great extent. The evidence is clear that distressed properties have not defined our market. The foreclosures that do come on the market are quickly absorbed – often with multiple offers.

Foreclosures in Austin:

2009 – 3.75% of market
2010 – 5.0% of market
2011 –4.25 % of market

Second, many newcomers have chosen to rent a home while they get settled or sell their home in another city. This has resulted in the highest occupancy rate for apartments in 25 years – about 96% occupancy. In many areas, single family rental homes are in very short supply. Of course, the short supply has raised rental rates. Eventually, these renters be ready to buy homes, and will add to the demand side of the market.

Third, there are still hurdles for buyers in getting financing, especially in the upper end. The cumulative effect of new regulations and conservative approach by appraisers have dampened mortgage momentum. If the appraiser cannot support the sales price, under tough comp requirements, the deal is likely to fall through. Even if the buyers are able to add more down payment, they are usually reluctant to proceed without confirmation by the appraiser.

And, fourth, anxiety concerning national and international financial conditions affects the real estate market, and we are not immune to that in Austin.

Yet, these dampening effects have not stymied demand for homes. They have slowed the pace of the market and kept demand from getting so strong that prices escalate quickly.


Overall, we are starting 2012 in the best of both worlds. Reduced supply is always good news for sellers. And buyers still have best-in-a-lifetime interest rates that can be locked in for 30 years.
Austin is simply a great place to live. We know it, and the word is out. That is the real story. And, for those who invest for the long term, the story has a happy ending.

If you have a real estate question, please feel free to call or email – and join me on a social media site.

A big thank-you to all of you who have sent us friends and associates who need to buy or sell houses! Keep sending! 
Roselind Hejl, CRS
Coldwell Banker United Realtors
512-327-0385 – Direct
512-789-4563 – Cell

Time to File Your Homestead Exemption for 2012



If you bought a home in 2011, it is time to file for your Homestead Exemption.  This will lower your property tax bill for as long as you own the home and occupy it as your principal residence.

After buying a home, you become eligible for a Homestead Exemption on Jan 1 of the following year.   So, for homes purchased in 2011, the time to file is between Jan. 1 and April 30, 2012.

The county appraisal district will send you a form to mail in to them.  If you don’t receive the form,  I have included some links to get the form online.  There is no charge, and you only need to do it once.

When you send in your form, you will need to include the following two items as proof that you live in the house where the exemption is claimed.  The address on both of these forms must match the address of your home.

1.     Copy of Texas driver’s license (or ID card)
2.     Copy of vehicle’s registration receipt

(If you do not own a vehicle, you may send a utility bill and sign an affidavit for non ownership of a vehicle.)

There are additional exemptions that you may qualify for, such as the Over 65, the Disabled Homestead, or the Disabled Veteran’s exemption.  Here is a link to general info about property tax exemptions.

Feel free to call if you have a question about this or anything else we can help with.

Travis County Application 

Williamson County Application

Hays County Application 
Roselind Hejl, CRS
Coldwell Banker United
512-327-0385 office
512-789-4563 cell


P. S.  Don’t respond to this scam:  An official looking letter is usually sent to new homeowners with a bill for filing your house as a homestead in the deed records.  This is not necessary, and will not lower your taxes.