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The Central Texas housing market is sizzling, experts and real estate agents say, and they predict the momentum from 2012 will continue throughout this year.

In its monthly report Wednesday, the Austin Board of Realtors said January home sales in Central Texas jumped 33 percent over the same month last year,
hitting their highest January level in six years. The area’s median sales price also rose, climbing 10 percent, compared with January 2012, to $197,900 last
month, the board reported.

The board said 1,402 single-family homes were sold in the Austin area in January, the most for a January since 2007. The increase marked the 20th month in
a row of rising sales in a market where competition for properties is increasingly fierce and multiple offers are common in many areas and price ranges.

“The Austin real estate market showed steady growth in demand throughout 2012, and, if the first month of 2013 is any indication, this year looks to be
continuing that momentum in a big way,” said Cathy Coneway, chair of the Austin Board of Realtors.

Housing demand is being driven by the region’s job and population growth coupled with historically low mortgage interest rates, experts say. Other factors
include a local apartment market that is virtually fully occupied and marked by rising rents; a low supply of new and resale homes; and increased consumer
confidence locally and nationally, stemming from rising home prices.

“All the statistics point to a very strong market this year with sellers in control,” said local real estate consultant Charles Heimsath, president of Capitol Market
Research.

Inventory is extremely low, experts and agents say, and buyers who don’t act quickly will lose out.

The local market featured 2.5 months of supply in January 2013, the lowest inventory figure seen in the Austin area in the past decade, the board noted.
There were 25 percent fewer listings than last January, and pending sales were up 25 percent.

“The local housing market is exploding right now,” said Dylan Everett, an agent with JB Goodwin Realtors. “In fact, it can be very stressful working with a
buyer right now because you are fighting multiple offers,” and houses are selling even before they hit the Board of Realtors’ database of listings, he said.

In January, 38.2 percent of new listings in Austin went under contract within 14 days of their debut, according to Redfin, a national real estate brokerage that
tracks housing data in several Central Texas counties.

“The national average was 30.3 percent, so Austin is right behind our California market in terms of speed of sales,” said Rachel Musiker, a Redfin
spokeswoman. “The speed just intensifies the competition for homes.”

Austin mirrors national trends, where home sales “are on a sustained uptrend, mortgage interest rates are hovering near record lows, and unsold inventory is at
the lowest level in 12 years” — all conditions for strong price growth, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors.
Home sales are booming
Austin American-Statesman
              2/21/2013