Ours is a numbers-intensive business, and I find that discussing market statistics with my clients gives them a much better basis for making informed decisions, whether they are considering buying or selling. I have written previously about my Austin Market Dashboard, which I keep updated every month on my website. Until now that page has included two sets of graphs that distill supply and demand and market pricing so that trends are visible.
Now I have added a table that I think helps to translate a statistical measure that our industry uses routinely into something that may be more meaningful to consumers: the Sales Price Distribution for 1998 through 2009.
The top half of that page shows what percentage of each year's sales were in the price ranges shown. I have highlighted the price bands that represented 10% or more of each year's total sales.
The bottom half of the sales distribution chart just accumulates the percentages from the top half, and the bold line across the table answers the question, "If a homebuyer wanted to look at 1/2 of all the homes available, how high would the price range have to be?" Our industry talks all the time about "median price" as if everybody understands what we're talking about. This chart puts that conversation in layman's terms.
A couple of comments:
- In 2000, shopping up to the high $150,000s in the Austin metro area would have covered a little more than 50% of all residential listings. Ten years later, in 2009, that bar had moved to almost $200,000.
- Even during the housing downturn, the sales price distribution in the Austin area is almost unchanged in the past three years. The same is true for much of Central Texas, even beyond Austin's sprawling MSA.
I have said and written frequently that Austin was shielded from many of the worst effects of the recession, but not entirely. Certainly demand has declined -- the number of homes sold in 2009 was down 30% from the peak in 2006. Even with sales soft, however, Austin area prices have held their own, and continued to increase slowly in some important market segments.