The September MLS statistics on sales of existing single family homes are out and the news is about as good as can be expected. During the month, sales of existing homes fell by 8 percent while the median price stayed flat. Notably, prices are actually up approximately 10% from September of 2006. While the rest of the country struggles with massive price erosion, the Austin market continues to hold its ground.
The news, in general, was stronger in some of the more central areas and weakest in the more distant high-dollar suburbs. In Area 1B, just west of downtown, prices dropped by 2.8 percent. In far out 8W, just outside the 360 loop South of the bridge, prices dropped by a whopping 26.4 percent.
While downtown condo numbers have not been published, the numbers tend not to be very useful anyway. Most new downtown units are never listed in the Multiple LIsting Service — they are sold directly by the sales office — and as a result they never hit the MLS statistics. The inventory of existing downtown condos remains very small and only covers a part of the market (existing buildings). As a result, the market statistics are not always representative of the downtown Austin condo market.
Here is a summary from the Statesman:
Sales of existing homes fell 8 percent in September, but the median price was flat at $182,600 — the first time in months it had not increased, according to the Austin Board of Realtors.
The year-over-year price drops included 2.8 percent in Area 1B, which includes Tarrytown; 7.6 percent in Pflugerville; 26.4 percent in 8W, the affluent suburbs of Southwestern Travis County; and 18.2 percent in west Georgetown.
Local real estate experts had been anticipating that prices would start to drop, as a near-record supply of homes for sale gave buyers plenty to choose from. New-home builders also have been offering aggressive incentives, providing more competition for buyers.
In other parts of the country where prices have been falling for months, sales have picked up sharply. For example, Southern California home sales jumped 65 percent last month as prices fell 33 percent to a five-year low.
In Central Texas, there were 1,670 sales last month. There were 1,520 pending sales — transactions in the pipeline — down 10 percent from a year ago.
There were 10,217 homes on the market, up 2 percent from a year ago.