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Luxury real estate booms as buyers from both coasts flock to Austin: ‘COVID has set our market on fire’
(Moreland Properties)

This 4-bedroom, $10 million Westlake home is privately listed by Moreland Properties. ModernWestlake.com

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When businesses closed their doors in March, Austin realtor Cord Shiflet did not think he would sell another house this year.

To his surprise, this has been the busiest month he has ever seen for well-funded buyers moving to Austin.

"In my 23 years of doing this, the last month has been the craziest, most active market I've ever seen, with big buyers moving into Austin," said Shiflet, who works for Moreland Properties. "COVID has set our market on fire."

Austin realtors say business is booming in luxury real estate, which is a pleasant surprise after expecting sales to plummet due to coronavirus.

The majority of his big buyers have usually come from California, Shiflet said, but now he is seeing a drastic increase in New York executives and business owners who want to move to Austin.

After months of stay-home orders and working remotely, people from both coasts seem to be reevaluating where they live.

"We've just been seeing New Yorkers coming out here in droves," Shiflet said. "They can work from really anywhere in the world, and these people don't want to live in the tight spaces that they're currently in."

Texas has long appealed to people living in more regulated states due to a business-friendly climate and lack of state income tax. Shiflet said realtors are struggling to keep up with the increased demand from new buyers, many of whom are shocked to see how much further their money can go in Texas.

"We're going through our Rolodexes and knocking on doors, trying to find the quality product that these people want," Shiflet said. "They have a hard time believing they can have so much house and so much space and land around them as opposed to the apartments they're coming out of in New York."

Michelle Dolch, a realtor from Austin Luxury Group, said she has experienced the same thing—she even has a few buyers who are looking in the range of $20 million and above.

"We don't really have a lot of real estate in that market," Dolch said. "Our inventory is really stressed."

In addition to those from California and New York, Dolch has seen an increase in buyers coming from Seattle and Chicago, citing complaints about coronavirus and taxes.

"It just seems that a lot of people that have been considering moving here over the years are now coming here all at once," Dolch said. "A lot of people have always considered Austin as a place they'd like to live in. They're not considering it anymore—they're moving forward with it."

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