Public Notice: Home Prices Still High
No surprise there, and they’ll go higher. Plus policing.
"Austin-area Home Sales and Prices Set New Record" was the big front-page headline in the Austin American-Statesman Wednesday morning. But of course, this just continues a string of new monthly record highs. After a surprisingly short pandemic shock, local real estate prices have soared over the last year, as I seem to have been writing about a lot recently. Indeed, the year-over-year comparisons are eye-popping this month in particular, because April 2020 was the month the market really shuddered from the pandemic.
But it's worth recalling that prices (and rents) didn't really drop appreciably then; they just stood still for a bit, and they've skyrocketed since. The estimates vary depending on which figures you use, for what parts of the metro area, but overall, sale prices are up about 40% across the board – rising a little faster in Hays and Williamson counties, but with scary-high dollar figures in the city of Austin. One recent analysis from Bramlett Residential Real Estate put the average sale price for a home last month at over $720,000, with the median at almost $600,000.
Yet analysts note that we're still an investment bargain compared to peer cities across the country, and with most investors doing pretty well during the pandemic, and often looking for places to put their winnings – and U.S. real estate looking like a pretty good bet right now for international investors – don't expect the bidding wars to slow down anytime soon.
What's Going on With Construction Costs? One thing that's contributing to those increases is the cost of construction, and construction materials – as anyone can tell you who's tried to get anything built recently, or just tried to buy a piece of lumber. AIA Austin, the local architects' group, is hosting a Residential Advocacy Roundtable next Monday, May 24, noon-1:30pm, with local residential general contractors talking about "the recent volatility in construction costs" and taking questions. It's free to the public via Zoom, but registration is required; see aiaaustin.org for more info.
Your Next Police Chief: The city has been soliciting comments on "the characteristics and priorities we should be discussing during our interviews and community discussions" about hiring the next Austin Police Department chief. The last two virtual community meetings take place this Friday, May 21, at 10-11am and 2-3pm via Zoom; register to attend at speakupaustin.org/yournextpolicechief. You can also submit feedback by commenting on that same page, or by emailing email@example.com.
Your Next Police Force: Meanwhile, the Office of Police Oversight is doing a survey and holding a series of events to get feedback on updating APD use-of-force policies.The last of the Reimagining Our Community Safety Policies sessions is at 6pm Wed., May 26; RSVP from the OPO Facebook page. Or comment online through May 31 at the city's SpeakUp Austin feedback portal.
People With Disabilities and Policing: At 6pm this Friday, May 21, the OPO, Equity Office, and Mayor's Committee for People With Disabilities host a town hall for people with disabilities to share their experiences with public safety in Austin. It'll be on Zoom, open to the public; click here, or see the OPO Facebook page.