real estate

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Cities and counties would have one more tool to give tax breaks to Texas homeowners if a bill by an Austin lawmaker becomes law.

HJR 138 by State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, would require voters to approve it in November. That’s because it would amend the Texas Constitution, which allows local governments like cities and counties to give up to a 20 percent homestead exemption. This bill would let them give a flat-dollar exemption, too, an option that only school districts in Texas have.

Joy Diaz, KUT News

There’s a little-known program run through the City of Austin that provides down payment money to low-income people free of charge. Of course, there's a catch: homeowners must live in the property for 10 years, or pay the city back.

Those who bought in when interest rates were almost twice what they are today, now wonder how can they refinance their mortgage without having to repay the city.

If you asked the Internet, it might tell you that Austin's a hipster-loving, small business-starting, traffic-riddled, undiscovered yet overrated place that keeps it weird. The web's traffic-baiting list-makers rank Austin as a leader in categories from fitness friendliness to porn consumption per capita.

But you're not asking the Internet, you're asking KUT News. And, as has been done a couple times now, KUT News has compiled a list of lists honoring, tweaking and trashing Austin over the past few months. Here's the third installment of The Top 10 Austin Top 10 Lists:

  • Big time for small business: Business website saluted Austin for business-friendly regulations and low licensing fees, ranking the city tops in the U.S. for small businesses. But the crowning stems partially from the state’s spartan regulation, as the survey also named Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio in its top 10.
Garreth Wilcock/Flickr

New home construction is up by 27 percent in the Austin area, according to MetroStudy. The real estate tracking firm says there were 1,952 starts in the first three months of the year. That’s 413 more than the same quarter last year.

MetroStudy’s Austin market director Madison Inselmann says the surge in new building is helping to lift pay for construction workers.

Austin-area home sales were up 26 percent in February, according to the Austin Board of Realtors.

The board also reports the median sale price grew by seven percent to about $208,000. That’s in no small part because the number of homes on the market is much lower. At the current pace of sales, it would take about two-and-a-half months to sell all the homes on the market right now. That compares to four months a year ago.

The number of single-family homes sold in the Austin area rose by 33 percent last month compared with January 2012, according to an analysis of the Multiple Listing Service by the Austin Board of Realtors

The group also says the median price for homes grew by 10 percent over the past year to reach almost $200,000, although experts say those price increases vary wildly from neighborhood to neighborhood.

Bunches and Bits/Flickr

The Texas real estate market rang out 2012 on a high note, according to the latest reading from the Texas Association of Realtors. It says 56,488 single-family were sold across the state in the fourth quarter of last year. That's an increase of almost 20 percent over the same period in 2011. 

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Construction could begin on 8,800 to 9,600 new single-family homes in 2013, according to an annual forecast by Eldon Rude, the Austin analyst with the real estate tracking firm MetroStudy. Rude delivered his forecast this morning before a group of realtors and home builders. The growth would represent an increase of 10 to 20 percent. 

Flickr user fabfemme

It’s probably the last measure of the Austin housing market we’ll get this year. And the Austin Board of Realtors' newest report suggests home sales are ending 2012 on a high note.

Austin-area home sales hit a five year high in November, according to the report, the 18th straight month of increased sales. Last month, 1,671 single-family homes were sold. That’s  23 percent more than in November of 2011.  Condominium sales increased slightly more, by 26 percent.  

KUT News

Not since the federal government was doling out $8,000 tax credits to first time homebuyers have home sales surged this much in the Austin area.

In October, 1,960 single-family homes were sold in Austin, according to the Austin Board of Realtors. The 37 percent year-over-year increase was the largest since November 2009.

“We’re very vibrant,” says Austin Board of Realtors chairman Leonard Guerrero, pointing to Austin’s growing population. “

By all accounts, the housing market is booming in Austin.

Home prices, number of sales, and rental occupancy rates and rents are up. And, according to numbers released yesterday, so is new construction. MetroStudy, a firm that tracks realty numbers, says construction in the third quarter is up 37% from last year.

Wells Dunbar, KUT News

New data released today shows homes in the Austin, Round Rock and San Marcos areas are increasing in value.

The report by CoreLogic – a real estate analytics company – shows home prices in Central Texas were up 6.8 percent in July, compared to July 2011. Home prices were also up from June to July of this year – by 0.6 percent.

Home prices are also on the rise across the state, up by 4.7 percent. Nationally, prices are up by 3.8 percent.

Having trouble finding a place to rent? You’re definitely not alone.

A steady stream of people moving to Central Texas has made finding an apartment more difficult. U.S. Census Bureau data released in June ranked Round Rock second and Austin third on a list of the fastest-growing large cities in the country.

Capitol Market Research, which studies the area’s rental market, says there are barely enough apartment units in the Austin-area to keep up with demand. It says the average rent on a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment is now about $1,100 a month.

KUT News

The volume of home sales was up for the 14th straight month in July, according to figures released today by the Austin Board of Realtors.   The number of sales was up 20 percent over last year, to 2,344.

Not only are more homes selling; they’re also selling at higher prices, and they’re selling faster.  The median-priced home sold for $214,000 in July, up 9 percent.  That's the sixth straight month that the median price has risen.   And houses sold, on average, in only 63 days, down from 77 days in 2011.

Photo by KUT News

Austin saw a surge in single-family home sales last month, according to the Austin Board of Realtors.

In a new report, the board says home sales were up ten percent last month over January 2011. While comparing two months worth of data has limitations, the finding speaks more broadly to Austin housing demand.

Eldon Rude, director of the Austin market for real estate tracking firm Metrostudy, says the January numbers are part of an ongoing recovery of Austin’s housing market.

Rude says the numbers are “driven by continued increases in population and household in the region over the last several years, and people beginning to react to increasing rents in the apartment market, and so they’re moving toward the for sale housing market.”

Image by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

A local blog sponsored by the real estate firm Urban Space claims sales of condominiums in Austin increased by a whopping 50 percent in 2010. delved into MLS listings and said sales increased from 112 condos in 2009 to 168 in 2010. The average price increased from $330,344 in 2009 to $343,983 last year, a gain of four percent.

Foreclosure sign
Image courtesy Jeff Turner


Austin foreclosures increased 10 percent so far this year, according to a report from Foreclosure Listing Service. The Austin Business Journal took a look at the numbers.

Aston Kauai Beach at Makaiwa
Image courtesy promotional video (below)

Local real estate firm JMI Realty is pitching in to buy a Marriot hotel on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The Austin Business Journal first reported it today based on a news release issued this morning, although the deal was first announced back in late-October.

JMI Realty is acquiring the 10 acre property in what is its first joint venture with Dallas-based Behringer Harvard. The price was not disclosed.