Home sales up in Four Points area

From The Hill Country News

Home sales are up in the Four Points area, and fewer homes are on the market, pushing inventory down.

“Without a doubt, we are seeing a strong trend of inventory reducing in most price ranges,” said Tim Moncrief, co-owner of Bartlett Real Estate Group Keller Williams Realty.

“This is a strong statement of how stable our area has become over the past year,” said Moncrief, who has been in real estate for 28 years.

A total of 59 homes were pending sales as of Dec. 1 in the River North (RN) area which includes River Place, Steiner Ranch, Grandview Hills and other Four Points neighborhoods.

“Compare that to 21 closings in November and 29 closings in October, and the 59 number will gain anyone’s attention,” Moncrief said.

Activity in the area noticeably kicked up after the election, and continued to increase with interest rate hikes.

Not all of those 59 pending sales will close in December, but “we are seeing more activity than we have seen in the last couple of years in the area,” he said.

Steiner Ranch this year has seen only one decreasing month in sales compared to last year. Greenshores has nearly quadrupled sales from last year, which is an obvious sign that the upper-end market is coming back, Moncrief said.

Inventory continues to drop from last year as well. Both River Place and Steiner Ranch have inventory levels at approximate levels prior to the mortgage market collapse.

“Inventory of homes up to $800,000 in the RN area have fallen within what economists consider ‘normal’ of four to six months of inventory for the first time in two years,” Moncrief said.

Steiner has seen a decrease in inventory every month this year compared to last year.

Moncrief predicts, if and when the demand increases consistently again, Four Points will have a shortage of homes and lots. This shortage will be offset to some degree by banks deciding to add “bank-owned inventory” into the market and potentially higher interest rates.

“Hopefully, the news will continue on a positive course this coming year,” Moncrief said.

Four Points is doing better compared to the greater Austin market, though the latter is holding its own in several categories, according to the Multiple Listing Service report released Dec. 20 by the Austin Board of Realtors. ABOR is a voluntary organization representing more than 8,000 licensed Realtors in Central Texas.

Home prices in Austin are up slightly, although volume of homes sold is down, the report states.

The volume of Austin area home sales in November was down 20 percent from November 2009. In the first 11 months of the year 16,477 homes were sold, down 6 percent compared to the same time period in 2009.

Austin residential real estate continues to hold value. Year-to-date, the median price has been $194,000, up 3 percent from 2009.

Also in the first 11 months, figures show that homes spent 4 percent fewer days on the market than in 2009.

“As has been the case for much of 2010, year-to-date figures paint a clearer picture of market conditions than month-to-month comparisons,” said John Horton, chairman of the ABOR.

More homes were sold in a large part of Austin last year in November because that is when the original homebuyer tax credits were set to expire. A last-minute decision extended them through the first part of 2010.

“Despite the fluctuations created by the tax credits in 2009 and 2010, Austin’s real estate market has remained stable. Austin homes are holding their value — even slightly increasing — and year-to-date, they have sold more quickly than in 2009,” Horton said.