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Austin Homes Now Unaffordable for Median Household Incomes-What Options Are Available?

Austin Business Journal March 25-31, 2022 pp14-19 “Will $250K homes return to Austin?” “Only if we change how we think about construction, ownership, experts say” By Michelle Pitcher

Read the Austin Business Journal for all the details.

Summary by 2244


Austin metro prices surged during the pandemic from a median price of $255,000 in January of 2016 to $499,995 in February 2022. Only 4.4% of new homes are priced at $250,000 in the Austin metro area. Of “3,611 floor plans currently being offered by all builders in the Austin area, only 11 have base prices below $250,000” this according to Lawrence Dean (Zonda).

So while supply is low, demand is likely to continue. Robert Dietz (National Association of Builders) commented “The growth rates…are likely to remain elevated well into 2023…it’s difficult to imagine a big fall back into negative growth rates...” Luis Torres (Texas A&M) says “It’s difficult for land prices to go down, especially in regions like Austin, where you are seeing strong economic growth.”

The Alternatives

The New Commute

With more work-from-home one may find more affordable homes in outlying areas like Jarrell (47 Minutes from DT ATX), Elgin (22 Minutes) and Smithville (46 Minutes).

3-D Homes

“Icon Technology…1,000-2,000 square feet traditional homes in “East Austin last spring…listed in the $400,000 range.

Modular Homes

Factory built components that are assembled on-site. Neu Community Inc. offers Lego-like homes. “Buyers start with the basics-a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen-and add modules” as wanted with price points “from $150,000 to $1,500,000. With Neu buyers own a share of a community “rather than the land their homes sit on.” Neu’s core customers are “reserving homes between 800 and 1,100 square feet…ideal for first-time homebuyers.”

Manufactured homes

Ernesto Iglesias (Roberts Communities) comments that “factory-build homes are an easy path to affordability” with price per square foot at $75 compared to $100 to $200 per square foot. These homes use a “land-lease system, where residents…rent a spot in the community.” These homes in Roberts communities “cost less than $100,000 for a 1,200 square foot residence.

Tiny Homes

Tiny homes, “usually measuring between 100 and 400 square feet” are actually mobile homes. Those that are built on foundations in Austin “are mostly used as accessory dwelling units, AKA granny flats.”


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