Austin is the state capital of Texas and home to the University of Texas. The city is known for hosting the South by Southwest Festivals and for having an eclectic, artistic atmosphere. A local preservationist movement uses the motto, “Keep Austin Weird.” Austin is home to many technology companies. The most famous is Dell Technologies, located in Round Rock just a few miles north of Austin. The greater Austin metro area is usually referred to as Austin-Round Rock. The combination of government, education and technology creates a stable economic environment in Austin, which is said to be recession-proof. The metro area unemployment rate was 3.1%, as of March 2016, compared to a peak rate of 7.8% in July 2009.

Market Insights

Austin's real estate industry is booming. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Index peaked at 270.78 before the recession and only fell to 261.83 at the bottom. It has since climbed to 390.73, which is 44.05% above the previous peak, making Austin the second-fastest recovering metro area. The median home price in the metro area increased from $220,000 in 2011 to $300,000 as of March 2016.

Metro areas, outside Austin proper, have strong growth in new housing starts and plenty of ability to meet demand. This is not true within the city limits. The result is higher prices and greater price appreciation. The average listing price in the city of Austin is $794,000, with 2,400 homes for sale.

Population growth is another factor driving Austin real estate. The population has grown 37.7% since 2005, and the Austin metro area ranked number one in 2015 for net migration as a percentage of population. The combination of population and job growth will continue placing upward pressure on home values. Growth might slow down but it won't stop.

Property and Transfer Taxes

Texas has the nation’s fifth-highest property tax rates with an average tax rate of 1.93% of market value. Austin’s property tax rate is slightly above average at 2.3%. The tax income is distributed between various agencies, with 0.42% going to Travis County, 0.46% to the city of Austin, 1.2% to the school district, 0.1% to the community college and 0.12% to other smaller assessments. Property taxes on individual properties are reset every year to match increases in market value. There are no property transfer taxes in Texas.

Most Expensive Neighborhoods

Austin's most expensive neighborhoods are located west and northwest of downtown Austin. The neighborhoods offer easy access to downtown, Lake Travis and the hill country. The median listing prices for the four top neighborhoods are Rollingwood at $1.16 million, West Lake Hills at $1.292 million, Barton Creek at $1.445 million and Tarrytown at $1.595 million. There are some downtown condominium projects that have units selling for more than $2 million. The most expensive home for sale in May 2016 is a 128-acre ranch in the Barton Creek area, which is listed at $25 million. The four-bedroom home comes with a pool, horse barn, private riding trails and a helipad.

Top Real Estate Websites

Traditional real estate company blogs focus on lead capture with little good information supplied. AustinRealEstateHomesBlog.com sells real estate; however, the blog also provides a steady flow of useful information that includes some depth on the local market and neighborhoods.

DowntownAustinBlog.org is published by Jude Galligan, a specialist in downtown Austin condos. The blog contains information about real estate development and trends in the downtown area. The content is long on good detailed information and short on sales pitch.

CreedeFitch.com is for people interested in design, particularly modern, postmodern and mid-century. It does not have as many market updates as some blogs, but Creede Fitch is not a cookie-cutter realtor. He has a funky vibe that appeals to the more artistic set.

Austin.CultureMap.com is not strictly a real estate blog. Its real estate and home design sections are full of high-quality information for someone researching the Austin market. The rest of the site contains articles on art, entertainment and restaurants in Austin.

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