From the Real Estate Center At Texas A&M University, this is an excellent (and detailed) look at the Austin-Round Rock MSA:
If you are a news and statistics junkie like me, you'll enjoy taking the time to review the presentation page by page. If you don't have the time, or just want the distilled version, here are what I consider to be the highlights.
- Not surprisingly, population growth has been on the periphery of Austin in recent years - Williamson, Hays, and Bastrop Counties. (page 5)
- The fastest growing towns in our area from 1990 to 2000?
- The Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area is projected to be the third fastest growing MSA in Texas from 2000 to 2020, behind the Laredo and McAllen-Edinburg-Mission areas. (page 6)
- On a percentage-growth basis, Austin was the fastest growing metro in Texas from 1998 to 2008 - with a 43% increase in population. (page 8)
- From 1998 to 2008, Austin had the third highest growth in non-farm employment at 29.4% (page 14).
- Note the changes in non-farm employment in the Austin area shown on page 15, and compare to the changes in home sales activity during the same 1998 to 2008 period as shown at www.AustinMarketDashboard.com. The effects of the dot-com bubble bursting, 9/11, and the subsequent Enron/corporate scandal era are quite visible in both sets of data.
- In 2009, Austin is the second highest paying employment market in the state (page 16).
- Pages 18 to 22 of the presentation contain a wealth of information about major employers in the area which I will not attempt to summarize here.
- On page 27, note that home value appreciation remained positive throughout the 1998 to 2008 period, with the exception of a few months in the second half of 2003. (Also apparent at www.AustinMarketDashboard.com.)
- Housing affordability in Austin, while not the best in Texas, is more than 50% better than the U.S. average (page 28).
- For those who need a little historical perspective on mortgage interest rates, see page 33.
- The local challenge in the real estate sector (as in the rest of the country) is commercial property. Note office occupancy/vacancy rates shown on pages 37 to 40.
All in all, this report bears out the optimism reported here and elsewhere for the coming years in Central Texas. We certainly have some challenges, not the least of which is employment growth, although even in that arena we fare significantly better than much of the country. Nonetheless, job growth is what will drive absorption of office space and continue to attract in-migration to Texas and to the Austin area.
As always, Austin must grapple with managing the positives of that growth while preserving the culture and the environment that are the basis for the "Austin Lifestyle" that attracts and keeps so many people here. We have done it in the past and I am confident we will continue to do so in the future.