Home sales got off to a strong start in the Austin-Round Rock market in 2020.
On Jan. 2, Zillow declared Austin the nation's hottest market due to the city's affordability, low unemployment, attractiveness to young people and booming tech industry. Even March sales figures were in the black, showing a 2.2% increase over the previous March, as the coronavirus pandemic grew.
Austin homes were rapidly appreciating, with median sales prices up 11.7% over the previous March. It was a bubbling sellers' market.
"March was a hangover from a fast start," said Romeo Manzanilla, president of the Austin Board of Realtors (ABoR) "Everything that was in the pipeline closed. We will see in April the true effect of the pandemic."
Romeo Manzanilla, president of the Austin Board of RealtorsRomeo Manzanilla
Of course the COVID-19 outbreak has had more deadly consequences, but it came at a bad time for sellers and buyers. The peak time for home sales is April through August.
Depending on shelter-in-place and restrictions on travel, Manzanilla predicts the Austin market will recover in the fourth quarter, perhaps active even in the holiday season. "Being both optimistic and realistic, there will be a lot of pent-up demand," he said. Sales numbers could be in line with last year, he added.
Manzanilla, 47 years old, moved to Austin in 1999. He is the broker-in-charge of Realty Austin, which is owned by Jonathan and Yvette Boatwright. The business has 560 agents and reported $3.45 billion in total sales in 2019. Manzanilla and his wife Monica live in Avery Ranch.
This still could be a good year for you if you're a certain kind of buyer. Mortgage interest rates are low, ranging from 3.2 to 3.9%, depending on the duration of the mortgage. Yet, jumbo loans—those exceeding $510,400 in Texas—have all but vanished.
Favored in today's market is the luxury real estate buyer who is liquid. "Instead of competing with 10 offers, they may find three or four offers on a home," said Manzanilla.
Not favored is the highly-leveraged borrower with drooping stock holdings and an unsteady job situation. "It's still a sellers' market," said Manzanilla, "just not quite as unbalanced [in favor of the seller] as it has been."
Sellers are more likely to negotiate extensions on closings, with appraisal and approval processes slowed by shelter-in-place and heavy demand for refinancing.
ABoR is advising agents to comply with social distancing, foregoing open houses and individual house calls in favor of pictures and virtual tours on web-based listings. Drones are being used for flyovers to substitute for walk-arounds. Online research by buyers has picked up, said Manzanilla. Realtors "should follow the CDC guidelines to minimize exposure to clients," he said, "and anything that puts you in a precarious situation."
Among his own clients, he added, a lot of prospective sellers are withholding their homes from the market, and those who have listed are holding firm on asking prices. Sellers know that there is a diminished pool of homes.
In good times and bad, Manzanilla loves real estate and interacting with clients. The best and worst of real estate? "Some clients you absolutely love. Some clients you absolutely love when a transaction ends."
Since we started working at Austonia, the editorial team has visited more than 40 coffee shops across the city to work in. We have a few favorites but the shops that transition from work to play are some of the best.
The ideal day-to-night coffee shops, according to us, are open by noon and stay open late, have both coffee drinks and alcoholic libations and are suitable both for a day of work or a night out.
Whether the conversation is just too good to pause, you need to blow off steam after a long day of work or want to mix up your midday pick-me-up, we recommend these businesses around town.
Ani’s Day and Night | 7107 E Riverside Dr.
Inside the house of the late Aniceta “Cheta” Limon, a businesswoman extraordinaire and lifelong Austinite, Ani’s Day and Night is an intimate choice to spend some time. With creative coffee drinks, like the espresso-chai “Let’s Choco-bout It” or dreamy blue “Pea Tea A,” similarly whimsical cocktails, natural wine and beer selection, there is something for any time of the day and night. You can catch bites from a food truck on site.
Better Half Coffee and Cocktails | 406 Walsh St.
Come for Better Half’s exquisite rosemary lavender latte, stay for the pineapple-y “La Llorona” or gin-based “Frozemary’s Baby” cocktails. From the minds behind Bad Larry’s Burger Club, Better Half slings classics with a personal twist, like the cauliflower tots, $6 happy hour “cheeseburgs,” or Sichuan hot chicken sandwich. The adjoining Hold Out Brewing has you covered on the artisan beer front, complete with a sprawling outdoor patio for those warm summer evenings.
Cherrywood Coffeehouse | 1400 E 38th 1/2 St.
With a homey interior, full menu of breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch foods (delicious, if we do say so ourselves), and gigantic backyard with picnic tables galore, Cherrywood Coffeehouse is comfy enough to spend the whole day in. We enjoyed the breakfast quesadillas, sunset lane smoothie and more than 20 beers on tap.
Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden | 121 Pickle Rd.
Just off South Congress, Cosmic is one of Austin’s most popular spots to spend a Friday afternoon. With a huge serene garden to explore and enjoy, famous food trucks like Tommy Want Wingy and Pueblo Viejo just steps away and an impressive array of coffee and cocktails on the menu, Cosmic exemplifies the Austin vibe. We like the frozen matcha painkiller, the yuzu lime Rickey and Cosmic’s Paloma.
Plaza Colombian Coffee | 3842 S Congress Ave.
This Colombian food paradise goes from a cozy tropical work environment to a colorful outdoor tiki bar experience. Plaza Colombian’s exquisite take on a London Fog is great for a daytime visit but the Tiki drinks come out once the sun goes down. As far as food goes, start with the plantain chip pataconcitos, arepas of your choice and don’t leave without an order of bocaditos, or puff pastry tossed in coffee cinnamon sugar.
Radio Coffee & Beer | 4204 Menchaca Rd.
On top of hosting acclaimed local food trucks—like Veracruz All Natural—offering morning brews and local booze, Radio is also an avid events venue. Live music, comedy shows and weekend markets are common occurrences, plus its hours can accommodate both the early bird and the night owl. Try one of the many local beers on tap or your pick of flavored margaritas.
Simona’s Coffee + Cocktails | 2510 S Congress Ave.
Bougie and Instagram-worthy, Simona’s at The Colton House Hotel is the complete package: Both indoor and outdoor seating, ample outlets for working, light bites, coffee, tea and a variety of themed cocktails. Head upstairs to the library nook for some decorative surprises and lowkey photo opportunities while you sip on a spicy “Hell or Highwater” cocktail with Ghost Tequila.
A Union Pacific cargo train hit a man in his 40s, killing him Thursday morning, Austin police said.
The train's driver called the police after the train hit the man at around 12:45 a.m. in the 300 block of Orchard Street, near Fifth Street and Lamar Boulevard.
Police have not released the identity of the man.