The residential real estate market in Austin, Texas, has remained red hot despite the global pandemic. We sat down with Barrett Sandefur, seasoned realtor with Realty Austin, for insight into this trend and where he thinks the market is headed with COVID-19.
YDP: Before the pandemic, what was the residential real estate market like in the greater Austin area?
SANDEFUR: The market in Austin before the pandemic was HOT, HOT, HOT. If you had a property that was priced properly and in great shape, you could almost guarantee multiple offers with the final sales price being above list price. Overall, people just wanted to live in Austin and prices continued to increase because of this.
YDP: What are some of the more dramatic shifts you have seen in market activity since COVID-19?
SANDEFUR: If you were looking to buy or sell in the Austin market, you would almost not notice that we were going through a pandemic. The Austin market has survived COVID-19, the only change one might notice is the lack of inventory. With the risk of contagion, some sellers are still just a little hesitant about allowing people in their homes at the moment. This has reduced our inventory tremendously, but that only means our listings are in more demand.
YDP: In your experience, where are people moving to and from? Is Austin experiencing the same exodus from more central/urban locations as places like New York and San Francisco?
SANDEFUR: I would say we are still getting a lot of buyers moving here from California. The cost of living is so much less here. That, along with home prices compared to California, makes it really easy to consider moving to Austin and the surrounding areas. And yes, the suburban areas of Austin (Round Rock, Leander, Cedar Park, Buda) are seeing exponential growth as in today's market, you get a lot more home for the money in these areas.
YDP: What do you think home buyers in Austin are most interested in right now?
SANDEFUR: Home buyers in Austin right now have a heavy focus on schools and getting the most bang for their buck. I have seen from experience some clients willing to give up a little space to make sure they get into the school district they desire. Also, I have seen more and more people wanting to reduce their commutes and be closer to their place of work.
YDP: What is happening with investment properties and second homes in Austin? Are rentals affected?
SANDEFUR: With the Austin market being one of the hottest in the nation, there are plenty of investors looking for properties in the area. With nothing really giving us any reason to believe the Austin market will slow down, many investors are purchasing rental properties not only for cash flow, but with hopes of the appreciation they have come to expect from the Austin market. From what I have been seeing, rentals have not been affected. If the property is clean, you can expect the house to get rented in less than a week. Again, this has to do with the influx of people moving to the area and either not ready to buy, or getting a good feel for the city before committing to an area and purchasing.
YDP: Where do you see the market in one year as the pandemic continues?
SANDEFUR: I don't see it slowing down at all. With the large companies building headquarters here (Apple, Tesla, etc.), the Austin market will continue to thrive with no end in sight, even during the pandemic. And with inventory down, I think we will continue to see an increase in prices for some time.
Barrett is a native Texan, growing up right outside Austin in the city of Round Rock. It wasn’t until Barrett went through the experience of being a home buyer himself that his passion for real estate developed. Throughout the entire process of buying his first home, he was disappointed that his realtor wasn’t more of an advocate. Barrett knew there was a better way to represent clients and keep their best interest in mind, and from there he decided to make real estate his career. With his local knowledge of the real estate market, passion for Austin and marketing background, it seemed like a perfect fit. Barrett prides himself on being proactive and truly enjoys educating his clients throughout the buying or selling of their home. With over $50M sold in real estate in his career, Barrett has cemented himself as a top Realtor in Austin and the surrounding areas.