Austin Sellers & COVID-19



How is the COVID-19 Crisis Affecting Austin Home Sellers?

Sellers are affected very differently depending on their sub-market. Sellers in entry-level price points and sellers close to the city center have a much better experience than those in upper-level price points or those in markets heavy with relocation buyers. Vacant properties are strategically much easier to market & show than occupied properties. Since there are so many variables, we do recommend speaking with an agent as soon as you’re comfortable doing so.

Have Home Values Gone Down?

Values have not declined and it’s not clear if they will decline. In general, real estate prices are a slow moving ship and do not see the volatility that you see in the stock market. The Austin market is fortunate in that values did not decline in 2 of the last 3 recessions, and they only declined 3.6% during the 2008 financial crisis. That said, it does feel as though we’ve quickly shifted to a buyer’s market.

Are Buyers Still Buying?

There are active buyers in the market. In general, there are more buyers active in entry level markets. The luxury, exurb/suburb, & relocation-dependent markets have the fewest number of buyers. We do still see multiple offers on properties (likely due to reduced inventory), but we see fewer and we don’t list properties with the expectation of a quick sale or one with multiple offers. That said, it is absolutely worthwhile to list your property now if you have a compelling reason to sell. It’s important to list with the expectation that the market is moving more slowly than it did pre-crisis.

How Are Showings Scheduled?

We recommend scheduling showings based on occupancy. If you’re selling a vacant property, then we simply allow agents to go at their convenience, and we rely on agents to use best practices to protect themselves & their clients. If you’re still living in your property, then we recommend showing by appointment only, and only on specific days/times so that you can disinfect the property upon or prior to your return.

Are Closings Delayed?

Closings have not been significantly delayed. Title companies & lenders have done an excellent job adapting to the crisis. You will not have a problem scheduling an inspection or getting an appraisal on time. If there is a legitimate delay due to COVID, we do recommend that sellers remain flexible & accommodating in order to get the property closed. In general, any delays are relatively short.

Past recessions affected the Austin real estate market in relatively similar ways. Sub-markets were affected differently. We do have data at the sub-market level. If you would like to discuss your specific property & sub-market, we would love to help you. We are happy to connect over the phone, video, or safely in person.

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What Are We Seeing in the Market?

Eric Bramlett

At a high level, the market has softened, but values haven’t dropped. I can’t emphasize enough how important sub-markets are, though. Sub-markets heavy with relocation buyers have really taken a hit, for the time being. Relocation buyers physically can’t make it to Austin and most aren’t willing to buy a home without seeing it. Homes priced in the entry-level ranges and those that are in central Austin or close to it are doing great and we’re still seeing multiple offers. There’s a lot of gray between those two extremes, though.

Tara McGuire

Price point & location are huge factors in how successful new listings are during COVID. Inventory is very low, but there are still buyers looking. If a home is under around $600k in a desirable area that’s not heavy with relocation buyers, it will sell. Property preparation – including staging – is more important than ever. I’m recommending that sellers list when the property is vacant, but we can still make an occupied sale work, although it’s trickier.

Will Mackintosh

Right now, all of my active listings are vacant and I’m recommending that most sellers with vacant properties go ahead and list. There are buyers looking, so there’s no reason to eat carrying costs, even though there are less buyers in the market. I’m working with a number of sellers who still live in their homes, and we’ve pulled most of those from the market. The logistics of getting out of the home in order to accommodate showings and then disinfect the home is just too much work for most of these folks. We can certainly make showings work for an occupied property, but there are a lot of balls to juggle to make that work. We expect to list these properties as restrictions begin to loosen and I have every confidence we will be able to still sell these homes this year.

Kasey Gilliam

Our relocation buyers still need to relocate. Most have leases ending and homes for sale wherever they currently live. The question is “When they get to Austin”, not “If they come to Austin.” Many have job agreements that have a summer start date, but that can obviously be changed. So, the relocation heavy sub-markets are on “pause” until these relocation buyers have less uncertainty and travel restrictions.

Ashley Vavasour

The majority of buyers in the market fall into two categories: 1) Current residents of Austin who are renting now and just waiting for the “right one”. 2) Out-of-town buyers who plan to relocate or invest in Austin.
The buyers in category 1 are currently very active in their search portals and want to see homes that fit their criteria “in real life”. They understand the need for safety and are only requesting to see properties that they deem as viable options. This is largely eliminating any “tire kicking” and casual house hunting. The relocation buyers who plan to actually move to Austin seem to have simply pushed back their timeline. This seems to be more of a reaction to what is going on where they currently are as opposed to what is happening here in Austin. Most are just waiting this out so they can begin the moving process safely.

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