As a fifth generation native Texan I know the old adage "you can always tell a Texan, you just cannot tell him anything..." I do think the Texas market has escaped suffering many of the dilemmas currently taking place in other parts of the country. I am cautiously confident that we will continue to prosper and grow in spite of the current economic downturn and problems throughout the real estate industry and other parts of the business environment. I do not want to sound overly optimistic or unrealistic but there are several factors that lead to the conclusion.
•1) Texas went through the same problems in the late 80's and early 90's with many foreclosure and business closings during the S&L crisis. When I first entered real estate in 1989 there were as many as 2,000 foreclosures in the Austin and Central Texas area EVERY month. Many lending requirements were changed back then to safeguard consumers and during recent years you did not see the large volume of predatory loans that were so prevalent in the subprime market.
•2) Many of the largest numbers of subprime foreclosures in other parts of the country were created by builders who also had their own loan companies. The builders' primary focus became that of loan companies and again regulations were stretched or in many cases abused.
•3) Although we have escaped many of the problems in the rest of the country, we still have a 24.4% increase in inventory a drop in pending contracts and solds. I feel like it's more of a case of hesitation (for a number of obvious reasons). Our office tracks open houses and over the month of June and the first part of July, there have been large numbers of Serious lookers in Downtown, Central, West and South West Austin and just this week offers are beginning to appear again.
•4) For the third year in a row, more people moved to Texas than any other state. The population growth is keeping our market from dropping and though more of a buyer's market than in the past, at this point we are just flattening out a bit.
•5) Texas has consistently been in the top ten in many categories of life style, affordability (although it is more expensive than ever to live in Austin now) and job growth. Employment demand is still high and continues to grow.
I first moved to Austin in 1974 (from West Texas) to attend school and thought it was perfect and should stay the same. Over the years it has grown and developed in good ways and sometimes not so great BUT it is still one of the best places in Texas or the USA and I cannot say enough about our wonderful city. I have been working with buyers and sellers in Central Texas since 1989 and the first buyer I sold from out of state was in 1990. At the time, they told me it would be good to shut the door and Austin would be great without any more people. Last month helped a family from California move into the Eanes school district in South West Austin and they said the same thing! There are a few things I miss about the "old" Austin but honestly, the only thing I can really complain about is...the traffic! I will talk more about that in my next post.