More than the weather is hot in Austin

Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to moderate a panel discussion for the Austin Young Real Estate Professionals (AYREP) about the outlook for Austin real estate. The consensus can be summarized in one word: hot.

If you’re a follower of real estate trends, you know that the market has been picking up throughout the country, but especially in Texas and even more specifically in Austin. As of May 2012, Austin had 4.4 months of housing inventory. When the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University cites 6.5 months of inventory as a market balanced between supply and demand, 4.4 months puts Austin firmly in sellers’ territory and panelists projected that will last several years.

Panelist Mark Sprague offered many reasons for that, including a healthy oil and gas industry and successful recruiting of companies to the state, which has contributed to job growth. Most of all, however, Austin is seeing significant population growth; this week’s U.S. Census Bureau report of the country’s fastest-growing cities reinforces that. In it, Texas nabbed six of the top 15 spots among cities with more than 100,000 residents. Round Rock (a suburb of Austin) ranked second and Austin ranked third. Statistics like these leave no doubt that Austin – and Texas as a whole – holds great opportunities for real estate and the business community.

While that growth is coming from many places, AYREP Panelist Andy Martinez, CEO of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, provided perspective on how much of the growth is concentrated within the Hispanic community. If you need proof of the power of the Hispanic community in Austin, three key demographics will provide it:

1. Austin’s Hispanic population grew by 64 percent from 2000 to 2010;
2. The majority of children in Austin are now Hispanic; and
3. The purchasing power of Hispanics in Austin has grown by 54 percent in the last five years to $9.4 billion.

Like other markets in Texas, the influence of the Hispanic population in Austin cannot be ignored and is likely to drive trends in real estate and other sectors well into the future. However, while growth for Austin’s population is good, it does not come without challenges.

Panelist Matt Maire, CEO of the Austin Board of REALTORS®, emphasized the need for a regional approach to Austin’s well-known traffic problems while State Representative Paul Workman of Texas House District 47 advocated for advancements in Texas water policy to sustain the area’s growth. In addition, panelist Lani Rosales, editor-in-chief of AGBeat, discussed how technology innovations have affected Austin to date and will continue to be a driving force in our community going forward.

Why is a PR professional writing about trends in real estate, you may wonder? Well, first off, because I own a home and I am an active member of the Austin community, so issues that affect Austin affect me. In addition, I have the privilege to serve many clients in the real estate sector, so the issues of interest to homeowners, Realtors, developers and others in real estate interest me. Most of all, everyone at Pierpont has a stake in the growth and vitality of Texas, so we’ll continue to be part of the discussion about what makes our state prosperous and how our clients can best plug into the communities we serve.

Do you have an opinion about the future of Austin or our other Texas cities?