What crazy times we live in! There are so many variables impacting the real estate and mortgage markets it’s difficult to create a concise analysis… but brevity is king so here goes!
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Many factors are impacting the markets today. First, the bad news. November saw a loss of 533,000 jobs nationally, the largest single month loss in 35 years. Consumer confidence has continued to fall from 88.6 a year ago to an all-time low of 38.0 today, and the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip has sent crude oil prices climbing over fears of supply disruption.
On the positive side, oil prices were at a high of $150/barrel in 2008 and are at $40/barrel today; the Treasury has thrown GMAC $6 Billion in tax payers’ money, which will enable GM to stay solvent for the time being; and the election uncertainty has finally dissipated with the election of President-elect Obama. All of that said, however, the biggest positive for us Austinites, is location. Austin, though impacted by the national economy, continues to be one of the hottest metropolitan areas in the U.S. Look at just a few of the accolades Austin received in ’08.
Austin is America’s Best Bang for the Buck City Forbes – 10/08
Austin: #4 Best Performing Cities Milken Institute – 9/08
America’s 2nd Hottest Labor Market is Austin Bizjournales.com – 9/08
Austin ranked 10th among 66 Places Where Owning a House Makes Sense MSN Real Estate – 7/08
Austin is ranked 2nd among cities for opportunities for young adults Austin Business Journal – 5/08
Austin No. 3 Recession-Proof City Forbes – 5/08
Austin tops Forbes’s list of America’s Fastest Growing Metros Forbes – 1/08
Austin is positioned extremely well once the national economy begins to recover from this recession. Currently, however, the average home price in Austin has fallen over 6% from a year ago and sales are down 42%.
Here are my predictions:
1. Austin home values will continue to decline over the next 6 months before stabilizing.
2. Interest rates will be temporarily depressed over the same period.
3. Inflationary pressures, including rising oil prices due to world demand, and a weakening dollar due to our growing debt, will push interest rates higher by the end of ’09 and significantly higher in the years to come.
4. Home prices will begin to rise again in Austin by the end of the year.
5. Austin’s population growth, economic strength, and real estate appreciation will be one of the highest in the nation over the next 5 to 10 years.