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Despite a pandemic and record-low inventory, the Austin housing market had a record-breaking year in 2020.

The median home price in the five-county Austin-Round Rock metro increased by nearly 16%, to an all-time high of $370,000, in December, and residential home sales increased more than 16% year-over-year, according to the latest monthly and year-end reports from the Austin Board of Realtors.


The city of Austin saw even more dramatic growth, with the median sales price rising nearly 19% to $461,000—a new monthly record—in December. Residential home sales increased 16.4%, year-over-year.

ABoR officials attributed this growth, in part, to the impact of COVID-19.

"The pandemic only increased demand for all types of housing across the region, pushing inventory to near-zero levels and creating the strongest sellers' market Realtors have ever seen," ABoR President Susan Horton said in a statement.

Dr. James Gaines, former chief economist for the Texas Real Estate Research Center, added: "The pandemic fostered an environment where many families increased personal savings, helping some transition from renting to ownership while others needed to 'move up' for more space while working from home."

Extremely low housing inventory factors into these jumps, with a record-low amount of housing inventory reported in the metro last month, according to ABoR.

"The complexity of a home sale is at an all-time high as it has become commonplace for homes to receive multiple offers well over list price," Horton said.

Horton's predecessor, Romeo Manzanilla, raised concerns about this trend.

"Central Texans who could not find a property within Austin's city limits have historically been able to expand their searches outward to find a home," he said in a statement last month. "But, when the entire region has virtually zero inventory, its leaders must think about how such a broad lack of housing will ultimately impact Austin's sustainability as a destination for business and economic growth."

Demand for housing is amplified by an influx of new residents.

Last month, the Wall Street Journal dubbed Austin a magnet for new corporate jobs, thanks to its lower costs (and taxes) compared to San Francisco and New York City. And LinkedIn reported that Austin gained the most newcomers of any city in the country, based on an analysis of its 174 U.S. users.

Overall, Gaines said the outlook for the 2021 housing market is "very good."

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