Get this: Austin has an unemployment rate of only 6.7%. That could be why, except for South Padre Island, Austin now has the highest priced median homes in Texas: $194,600, according to the Real Estate center at Texas A&M University. Sales of existing single-family Texas homes in August were up 24 percent from a year ago, according to the most recent Multiple Listing Services (MLS) data compiled by the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. More than 21,200 existing single-family homes were sold, data showed. The median home price was $153,200, about the same as a year ago, and the state’s overall inventory was at 7.4 months.

So why is our little sister city to the south, the one often equated with San Francisco, kicking butt in the real estate market? I reached out to my friends at Realty Austin, an Austin real estate firm. Here’s what agent Brittanie Flegle has to say:

Based on the latest financial news, one might assume that very few people are purchasing homes this year.  However, you might be surprised to know that in Austin, July and August home sales reached record highs.  In fact, July marked the best month for Austin real estate in over 2 years!  Here is a snapshot of the Austin real estate market as compared to one year ago.

  • $524,492,455 – Total dollar volume of single-family homes sold, 23% more than July 2010.
  • $196,750 – Median price for single-family homes, 11% less than July 2010.
  • 1,973 – Single-family homes sold, 32% more than July 2010.
  • 205 – Condos and townhomes sold, 45% more than July 2010.
  • 77 – Days on market, 5% longer than July 2010.
  • 2,808 – New single-family home listings on the market, 13% less than July 2010.
  • 9,393 – Active single-family home listings on the market, 20% less than July 2010.
  • 1,994 – Pending sales for single-family homes, 28% more than July 2010.

All of those total to a 32% increase in year over year home sales. This can be explained by the sharp decrease that occurred when Federal homebuyer tax credits expired on June 30, 2010. However, there are several other positive factors driving the Austin real estate market.  These include:

  • Record low mortgage rates
  • Stable home values
  • An unemployment rate of only 6.7%
  • A limited supply of new and resale homes for the 56,000 people expected to move in 2011

One great example of an Austin community that has seen lots of growth in the past year is Scofield Farms. Price points: $300K.  Located in North Austin, it has quickly become one of Austin’s most sought-after neighborhoods for new Austinites and their families.  Scofield farms realtor Jenny Walker agrees. “Scofield is great for families because it is a very close knit community.  Neighbors really look out for one another here.  Scofield is also within walking distance of great schools and near high-tech employers like Dell, Samsung, and IBM” Jenny says.

On the other hand, if you’re in the market to sell, keep in mind that there are 20% fewer homes on the Austin market than there were at this same time last year.  In short, this means significantly less competition for those selling homes.

After a challenging year in real estate, the Austin market seems to be back and holding strong.  How do you spell a healthy real estate market? JOBS!

Sales of existing single-family homes in North Texas slid 11 percent in January, or so everyone is reporting, but here’s the good news: the median home price rose 8 percent, this from the Texas A&M Real Estate Center said Tuesday.I think we need to keep our eye on that ball.

In January 2011, 3,073 homes were sold in the 29-county region, down from 3,330 in January 2010, the Center said. But remember that January 2010 number was inflated by the first-time homebuyer’s program.

So it was the eighth straight month that home sales were down from a year earlier, but I see that as no cause for concern other than to ask, again, why are the banks not loaning out money? In fact, instead of another first-time homebuyer’s program, why don’t we have a first-time home borrower program? I hear story after story of wealthy people with great credit who cannot get loans simply because they do not have a W-2. We bailed out the banks, but here we are, two plus years into this recession, still no loosening of the loan strings.

On a very positive note, I think, the median home price was up 8% in January to $140,010 from January 2010. That may have happened because of a flux of high-end home sales, such as that of the Jonas Brothers K2. The best case scenario is that if we can hold home values steady for a few years ’till the banks loosen up, people will get loans and then start buying all over.