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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As Texas gets ready to lift the mandatory mask mandate on March 10, food and bar workers gathered at the Texas Capitol to express their frustration with the lack of COVID-19 precautions without adequate access to the COVID-19 vaccine.The event, which began at 1 p.m. on Monday, was hosted by the Austin chapter of Democratic Socialists of America, Restaurant Organizing Project and The Amplified Sound Coalition.
Christa McWhirter<p>Crystal Maher, a member of the Restaurant Organizing Project, stands in front of the Texas Capitol to express to other protesters in attendance how not being eligible for a vaccine has impacted her ability to safely keep her job. </p>
Christa McWhirter<p>Kiara Collins, Eric Santos and Taylor Escamilla are all essential workers who have been questioning their safety in their workplace. As many of the other protesters, the three wore masks with the word "Expendable" on it. According to Collins, they were only given to essential workers in attendance to represent how they have been treated since the onset of COVID-19.</p>
Christa McWhirter<p>As Maher continues to introduce speakers, two essential workers who came out to support the protest, record as counter-protesters heckled the event's speakers.</p>
Christa McWhirter<p>Some of the counter-protesters in attendance were live streamers from InfoWars, an extremist organization, who heckled speakers until the rally dispersed. </p>
Christa McWhirter<p>A representative of the Del Valle Community Coalition spoke about the impact the lack of vaccine access has had on the Del Valle area. As she attempted to give her speech, anti-masking protesters yelled at her causing many people to attempt to block them out.</p>
Christa McWhirter<p>Protesters blocked the way of anti-mask counter protesters as they heckled the event's speakers and held "My Body My Choice" signs. "It's kind of insane how they're using 'my body, my choice.' It doesn't only affect you. So it's not just your body," Taylor Escamilla said.</p>
Christa McWhirter<p>Jeanette Gregor, cofounder of Amplified Sound Coalition, also had to fend off counter-protesters as she gave an impassioned speech about the danger essential workers place themselves in by going to work and have yet to qualify for COVID-19 vaccine. </p>
Christa McWhirter<p>Around 2 p.m., State Troopers began to arrive at the Capitol amid heightening tensions from protesters and counter-protesters. As police presence began to increase, the event came to end about 15 minutes later. Despite the constant back and forth between sides and the arrival of law enforcement, the protest came to end peacefully.</p>
The world has changed drastically over the past year, and South by Southwest, one of Austin's most beloved institutions, has, too.
After being abruptly canceled by the city last year, one week before it was set to kick-off due to the increasing understanding of the potential impact of COVID-19, it returns this year in a virtual format March 16-20.
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Austin Public Health will release first dose COVID-19 vaccine appointments on a weekly basis starting Monday evening. The specific days and number of appointments made available will depend on the weekly allocation from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Previously, APH released first dose appointments on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
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