Luxury real estate booms as buyers from both coasts flock to Austin: ‘COVID has set our market on fire’
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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Austin and the Cybertruck: Tesla eyes Texas, home of the pickup, for Elon Musk's latest unique creation
Cybertruck<p>The vehicle features "a nearly impenetrable exoskeleton" made of stainless steel, "vault-like storage" and an "ability to pull near infinite mass," according to the company's website.<br></p><p>Now available for preorder, production of the Cybertruck is expected to begin in late 2022. The price ranges from $39,900 to $69,900, depending on the motor type, with a self-driving add-on available for $8,000.</p><p>When Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled the Cybertruck on Nov. 21 at an event in Los Angeles, it prompted much feedback on its design.</p>
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Austin's COVID-19 fatality drops as treatment improves, testing expands, cases among young people rise
The mortality rate for COVID-19 patients—defined as reported deaths per confirmed cases—in Austin has dropped from 3.6% at the end of April to 1.8% on June 22, a decrease that the city attributes both to better treatments and to a rising number of cases among young people, who are more likely to recover.
Travis County COVID-19 mortality by age<div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/2950699" data-url="https://flo.uri.sh/visualisation/2950699/embed"><script src="https://public.flourish.studio/resources/embed.js"></script></div><p>Austin Public Health began offering its free service to residents regardless of symptoms on June 5, following mass protests against police brutality, and many residents have taken advantage of the opportunity.</p><p>Between June 15-21, more than 3,000 people were tested by APH, up from 2,400 the week prior.</p><p>More testing means the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is closer to the actual number—and the death toll is proportionally smaller.</p><p>Dr. DeVry Anderson, chief medical officer of St. David's South Austin Medical Center, said the falling mortality rate is also due to <a href="https://austonia.com/Coronavirus/austin-coronavirus-hospitals/higher-exposure-for-health-care-workers" target="_self"><u>better treatment options</u></a> for COVID-19 patients who are hospitalized.</p><p><span></span>These treatments include:</p><ul><li>convalescent plasma therapy</li><li>the antiviral drug remdesivir</li><li>improved ventilator management</li></ul><p>Another development is that doctors are more familiar with how to treat COVID-19 patients than they were in early March.</p><p>"Having physicians and staff that have gotten, not comfortable, but now understand how to treat and care for these patients, I think it's seamless in the way we transition those [patients] to higher levels of care," Dr. Anderson said.</p>
Travis County COVID-19 mortality by race<div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/2950719" data-url="https://flo.uri.sh/visualisation/2950719/embed"><script src="https://public.flourish.studio/resources/embed.js"></script></div><p>Deaths also vary by race and ethnicity, with a larger proportion of Black and Hispanic residents who contract COVID-19 dying from it.</p>
Travis County COVID-19 mortality by ethnicity<div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/2950729" data-url="https://flo.uri.sh/visualisation/2950729/embed"><script src="https://public.flourish.studio/resources/embed.js"></script></div>
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Austin Mayor Steve Adler issued a "Stay Home, Mask, and Otherwise Be Safe" order, effective from noon today until Aug. 15, requiring all individuals to wear masks and social distance. The order prohibits outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people.
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The surge in Austin's COVID-19 cases is overwhelming the public health system trying to fight community spread.
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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Thursday requiring all Texans to wear masks "over the nose and mouth" in public spaces. It applies to counties with at least 20 confirmed COVID-19 cases and reverses the governor's previous policies.
Exceptions<p>The governor's order provides some exceptions to the mask mandate, including:</p><ul><li>People who are under 10 years old or have a medical condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a mask.</li><li>While eating, exercising outside, swimming, voting or driving alone or with a member of the same household.</li></ul><div>See a full list of the exceptions <a href="https://open.texas.gov/uploads/files/organization/opentexas/EO-GA-29-use-of-face-coverings-during-COVID-19-IMAGE-07-02-2020.pdf" target="_blank">here</a>.</div>
A reversal<p>This order represents a reversal for Abbott, who previously refused local jurisdictions the right to mandate masks and limit gatherings despite repeated pleas that he do so.</p><p>Earlier this week, Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe <a href="https://austonia.com/Coronavirus/austin-surge-" target="_self">sent Abbott a letter</a> asking the state to enforce mandatory masking, prohibit social gatherings of more than 10 people, roll back business occupancy and allow local officials to issue stay-home orders as needed.</p><p>"In summary, the rapid increase in cases has outstripped our ability to track, measure and mitigate the spread of disease," he wrote.</p><p>Austin Mayor Steve Adler, along with the mayors of eight other large Texas cities, also sent Abbott a letter, <a href="https://austonia.com/Coronavirus/texas-face-masks" target="_self">on June 16</a>, asking for the authority to impose a mask requirement.</p><p>The next day, Abbott allowed local jurisdictions to require businesses to mandate masks among employees and customers.</p><p><em>This story is developing and has been updated.</em></p>
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The coronavirus pandemic has altered or canceled summer plans for many. We asked you earlier this week, "What are your travel plans this summer?" The majority voted "staying home."