As Austin’s housing market continues to grow. Is now the time to buy?

By: Jan Buchholz

For much of the past five years I’ve reported on real estate in a market that prides itself most of the time about being one of the most real estate-driven markets in the country: Phoenix. Of course I showed up in what’s called the Valley of the Sun in 2007, right before the economy tanked and the bottom fell out of the Phoenix real estate market. But never fear, that economic engine is already revved up and ready to go once again.

Meanwhile, in April of this year I transferred to the Austin Business Journal, and since I showed up here, there’s been an all-systems-go mentality regarding real estate in what has typically been a government, education and technology driven market. I never thought I’d be in a market so real estate-centric as Phoenix, but times are a changing.

That’s the word this morning at the 2013-2014 Annual Economic Forecastsponsored by Angelou Economics. Economic guru Angelos Angelouemphasized that real estate is going to play an increasingly formidable role in the city’s future fortunes.

Hotels and apartments already are cropping up rapidly, along with several mixed-use projects. Office and industrial developments are sure to follow suit.

Several of the experts opined that this is the time to buy a single-family home with inventories at historically low levels of a three month’s supply, far below the six month’s supply that normally is considered a balanced ratio of supply and demand.

The average home price locally, according to Angelou, is $261,000. Coincidentally, theAustin Business Journal also reported this morning that home prices in Austin have risen 2.9 percent in the 12 months between the third quarters of 2011 and 2012. That’s the seventh-highest increase among major metropolitan areas based on the Federal Housing Finance Agency scale.

As an interesting aside, Phoenix ranked first in home appreciation in the same survey.

But given the statistics, I think the optimal time for buying a house in Austin has passed — at least based on price points. An average home price of $261,000 is pretty hefty, especially for Texas.

However, that’s not to say anyone should delay buying a house. Prices are certain to continue their upward trajectory barring any economic or government catastrophe. So buy now, assuming you can find a house and financing to meet your needs. Come 2014 prices may be out of reach for many Austinites.

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