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San Francisco newspaper makes case for Austin, crediting Californians for housing boom

Californians are moving to Austin in droves, affecting home prices in the area. (Shutterstock)

The San Francisco Chronicle is the latest publication to tackle the California migration, and it credits Californians moving to Texas for Austin's housing boom.

Thousands of newcomers from the Golden State are taking comfort in the Hill Country's rolling hills, budding wine scene and warm weather, the Chronicle writes, while also taking advantage of higher affordability and a better quality of life.

Douglas Yearley, CEO of luxury Central Texas homebuilder Toll Brothers, said that much of that jump is due to Californians, the Chronicle reported. "The pricing power of Austin, which is number one in the country, is driven by California, plain and simple," Yearley said.

It's not all sunny skies

Home prices are being driven up swiftly in Central Texas as newcomers pile in. The Austin metro brings in over 180 people a day, more than anywhere else in the country.

The latest report from the Austin Board of Realtors revealed the median home price reached an all-time high of $566,500 in May, jumping nearly 35% year-over-year.

Meanwhile, California lost residents for the first time in its history last year, with San Francisco losing around 1.3% of its population. Austin is projected to soon become America's 10th largest city, a seemingly symbolic shift as it bumps down current No. 10 San Jose.

It seems the days of the Gold Rush are long gone. Real estate broker Ray Shapley, who helped Californians Josh and Jessi Rubbicco find a home in Austin, told the Chronicle that migration patterns are undergoing a massive overhaul across the country.

"I think the last few decades kind of belong to California. I think the next few decades might belong to Central Texas," Shapley said. "As someone who was born here and loves Central Texas the way it is, I don't know that I necessarily love that."

Shapley's fears are echoed by many Austinites who aren't sure the city is ready to tackle such a large housing boom.

Looking in the mirror

The article admitted that some of Austin's problems reflect that of California. Homelessness has been at the forefront of local politics for years, and the affordability crisis is only increasing in severity as supply-and-demand runs its course in the city.

The difference between Austin and its Golden State counterparts, however, is that the Texas capital's issues may still be solvable. By contrast, the Chronicle reported that many of the Bay Area's crises are deeply entrenched.

While the median home price has grown in the Austin metro, it's nearly triple that ($1.3 million) in the nine-county Bay Area. There isn't enough housing in Austin, but the Bay Area's homelessness crisis could take a whopping $11.3 billion to resolve.

Even property taxes, which are higher in Texas and ever-changing, are worth the better quality of life and sense of community, Josh Rubbicco told the Chronicle. "I feel like we have more friends here now than we've ever had in California," Rubbicco said. "People were so welcoming and friendly."

Oracle's Waterfront Campus on East Riverside recently became the new headquarters for the tech giant. (Shutterstock)

Austin is also the trendy new HQ for companies—a record 22,114 jobs were introduced from companies moving or expanding in the metro last year, according to the Austin Chamber of Commerce—but issues or not, the Bay Area's role in tech isn't going anywhere, University of Texas associate professor Jake Weggman, who studies housing, told the Chronicle.

"I don't think any of that's going away in the Bay Area. But I do think that the Bay Area is headed for a future where it's a little bit less dynamic... more slow-growing," Weggmann said. "Austin is going to be more fast-growing and dynamic and fast-changing."


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