It’s a Sellers market

It’s a hot seller’s market for homes in Williamson County, with potential home buyers often offering more than a home’s list price as they compete to buy in the county’s tight housing market.

Williamson County’s median home sales price set a record of $239,500 in January, up 5 percent from January 2015. The number of homes sold in January increased by 3 percent compared with January 2015. The median price for homes sold in Round Rock in 2015 was $225,000.

“It’s a great time to be a seller in Williamson County,” said Shavonne Martin, president of the Williamson County Association of Realtors. “There is such great demand,” with multiple buyers regularly bidding to buy the same home, she said.

“Buyers are bidding over the list price, and they’re still not winning the bid” on many homes, she said.

Overall, homes in the county are selling at almost 99 percent of the list price, she said.

Many would-be home sellers are staying put because they’re already locked into low interest rates and moving would mean buying in a sizzling market where home prices have shot up. That means buyers would most likely get less home than what they already have, among other reasons, Martin said.

In January — typically the worst month for home sales — homes in Williamson County were on the market for 54 days, with 1,474 homes listed for sale, according to the association.

The housing market is hot throughout the Austin area, fueled by a strong economy and population growth. The median home sales price in the Austin area in 2015 rose to $263,900, up 8.8 percent from 2014.

Williamson County’s median home sales price is less compared to the Austin metropolitan area overall, and that is helping attract buyers, along with other benefits the county has to offer like high quality of life, Martin said. “People are moving west and north” from Austin, she said.

Williamson County home sales account for 33 percent of all homes sold in the Austin metropolitan area, according to the association.

The increase in home prices adds to concerns about housing affordability, which is a major concern in the Austin area. The association has established a committee to focus on housing affordability concerns in the county and work with local governments on the issue, Martin said.

For people seeking affordable housing in Williamson County, single-family homes beginning at about $150,000 are available, Martin said. There are also cities in the county, like Leander and Hutto, where homes can be bought for no money down through federal housing programs that assist buyers with home ownership, she said.

For would-be home buyers, low interest rates and the high cost of rental housing in the area is an incentive to buy, despite the rise in home prices locally, Martin said.

Potential home buyers who often may be paying $1,500 to rent a two-bedroom apartment are likely to find purchasing a home a better deal for their money, she said.

While there are more existing homes for sale in Williamson County than there are new homes, there are more newly built homes for sale in the county than any other in the Austin area, Martin said. Williamson County has land available to build new homes, she said, especially more land than neighboring Travis County.