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published on May 5, 2008

Across the nation, the residential real estate sector is in a funk.  Values are down.  Homes aren’t selling as quickly.  And don’t forget the sub-prime mortgage mess.  It’s hard to turn on the news or read the paper without hearing something bad.

But what about real estate in Austin Texas? Let’s not shade the truth.  The Austin market has not been immune.  Sales in the first quarter of the year were noticeably down over last year.  There is evidence that Austin area realtors are not seeing as many first-time or lower-end homebuyers out and about.  Some homebuilders have suspended development.

Still, in a comparison to other major cites across the United States, Austin is in relatively solid shape. 

There are lots of ways to measure the market. Let’s take one – sales prices.

In late March Standard & Poor’s released its latest data from its “S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices”, which it calls the leading measure of U.S. home prices.  Their headline was decidedly bleak:  the start of 2008 showed continued record-setting declines in home prices.  16 of the 20 cities reporting had record lows, with ten cities – including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Washington, Miami and Phoenix – at double-digit percentage decreases.

Yet homes in Austin Texas in early 2008 have held their value so far.  According to data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, Austin homes for sale had not decreases but slight increases in value.  In January median sales prices were up six percent; in February the market seemed to stumble a bit and prices were up only 1.6 percent, and then back to a six percent gain in March.

To be sure, the market here has seen better days, but thankfully nothing as troubling as the dip in many of the country’s largest housing markets.

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