As I have commented many times in many places over the past 12 to 18 months, discussing "averages" in real estate can be very deceptive. Articles about the record level of foreclosures in the United States can leave the impression that all areas are having enormous pain. While it is true that we're all feeling the effects of the recession and the housing downturn, 52% of foreclosures in October were in just 4 states (http://www.austinmarketinfo.com/, 11/12/09).
Likewise, within a local market, there can be a wide variety of conditions from one area or subdivision to another. A few weeks ago I compared three golf-centered neighborhoods in the Austin area (Neighborhood Variations, 11/1/09) and highlighted significant differences. Today, I focus on four neighborhoods in the city of Austin (not suburban cities and towns) where homes sell for roughly +/- 10% of our median price.
MLS Market Details includes statistical details for four communities around town -- Active, Pending, and Sold listings (last 90 days), etc. I have worked in and like all four, but the point is that even in Austin, Texas, one of the strongest real estate markets in the country, there are important variations. Feel free to review the attached information and let me know if you have any questions, or just want to talk about it. For those with less time or detailed interest, Market Comparison Summary and my comments below cover the high points.
As you move from top to bottom in that summary chart, buyers get larger homes (average 1,516 SF in Cherry Creek to 1,926 SF in Pioneer Crossing). Nonetheless, you can see that location matters more. Demand in Pioneer Crossing only spiked near the end of this 90-day period. Even then, though, the average list price required to attract a successful offer is substantially lower than in the other neighborhoods.
These are among the most active subdivisions in the market segment in which first-time homebuyers have been busiest over the past several months. Among them, three remain biased in favor of sellers, while one (Pioneers Crossing) favors buyers. Even in the "weakest" of these market areas, recent sale prices have been at more than 96% of list price. Conversely, the highest priced neighborhood in this discussion has sold the fastest - just 22 days on market.
I talk to clients frequently who, based on media reports about turmoil in the real estate business, believe that it is entirely reasonable to expect to buy a home in Austin at a substantial discount. If a real "steal" hits the market, it won't last long, and frequently sells above list price with multiple offers. As I have pointed out many times, knowing the specific market you're interested in is critical, and a full-time real estate professional who approaches client relationships as consulting relationships is the best source of such knowledge and insight.