DAB STATS: July Transaction Summary

In July of 2007 we recorded 14 transactions at an average of $353psf.

In July of 2008 we recorded 11 transactions at an average of $289psf.

In July of 2009 we recorded 13 transactions at an average of $267psf.

In July of 2010, we recorded 12 transactions at an average of $314psf!!

What insights can we glean from four years of July transaction data?  Based on my experience this year, I would say those numbers show that [in aggregate for downtown] a bottom had been reached, and we’re returning to normal where average prices hover around $300psf.

If developers reported sales (they don’t, but if they did), July’s closed Sabine units would nullify the effect of the higher priced closings at the Austonian, Spring, and Four Seasons.  Also, at least two of July’s transactions were deeply discounted transactions at Milago and yet the average numbers are still strong.

The market continues to place a premium west of Congress Avenue, as transactions at Austin City Lofts and 360 condos exceed $400psf.  Feedback from my clients indicate this premium is a reflection of these buildings’ proximity to a mix of retail uses and to Whole Foods.  As inventories of new construction continue to dwindle, the average buyers’ expectations are beginning to come back inline with a healthy resale market.

An example of a great buy in July:  Milago #423. A 2bd/2ba corner unit at tree level with city views for $300,000.  The seller took a hit on this one and originally paid $382,500.  Also, I’m bullish on the Rainey Street District, future improvements to Waller Creek, and the desirability of living near the trail for couples/families.

What does the buyer who prioritizes value do now?  Be prepared.  Get pre-qualified for a mortgage.  Be ready to pounce on the random short sale or bank owned property.  I seem to find 1-2 each month.  Forget about foreclosure auctions in downtown – they simply do not happen with any regularity, and 99% of the time the bank takes back the property and lists it on the MLS market where they can get closer to market rates.  Of course, you can go to the courthouse to see for yourself.  Or, you can just contact me.

Registered members of DAB can download a complete statistical and transaction report here.


DAB STATS – June Transaction Summary

In June we made local real estate history.

1) We observed the most expensive (per foot) recorded transaction ever in downtown Austin: the 43rd floor 2bd/2ba 2022ft penthouse at 360 Condos, once owned by the building’s developer, sold for $717psf.  Note, this sets the record for a recorded transaction in downtown, that is auditable via the MLS.  We’re familiar with the off-record purchase of the 11,000ft penthouse at the Four Season Residences for more than ~$1,000 per square foot.

2) The Austonian posted in June a 3bd/3ba 45th floor unit for sale @ $1120psf.  This is the most expensive (per foot) unit ever listed in the MLS area “DT”.  Mind you, the 45th floor is well below the penthouse.

3) The Austonian and Four Seasons now have residents, and each building has closed more than a dozen units, with more in queue.  These transactions are not reflected in the summary data below.

The transactions in aggregate show year-to-year growth for the month of June from 13 to 17 transactions, selling at an average of $296psf to the current $321psf, respectively.  Compared to last month, prices are up from May’s average of $284psf.  As always these numbers require qualification.  Prices did not surge 13% from last month as the raw data would indicate.

In May, nearly 25% of the transactions occurred in buildings outside of the downtown core (Cambridge Tower, Penthouse, Greenwood Tower).  These buildings can generally trade $100psf less than the average, so when there is an abnormal number represented in “DT” sales, it brings the averages down.  In June, there were only two of these transactions.

I’m increasingly using a modified version of the DT boundary that brings the boundary south from MLK to 15th Street, as this better represents the core, but I will always indicate this to you when doing so.

Registered members of DAB can download a complete statistical and transaction detail report here.


DAB STATS – May Transaction Summary


In May, we saw at least four articles suggesting that more downtown Austin buildings are forthcoming: Block 51, Austin Energy building on West Ave, City planning a new parking garage, State capitol considering more density.  We haven’t seen that many speculative media reports about downtown development since 2006.

We’ve been hammering the point that there is no more new inventory under $400 per foot.  It’s gone.  But, don’t get caught up in the hype about new construction, at least not yet.  Even if the data suggests that there is capacity for more new attainably priced product (2bds/2ba+ for under $400k), the capital markets aren’t racing to provide financing.

Conversely, there’s a robust resale market working like a well oiled machine.  The difference between average asking price and average sale price is shrinking.  Last month, across 22 transactions, this spread was ~4%.  Timid buyers and sellers should take confidence in this stability.  To drive home the point even further, we witnessed at least two bidding wars last month.  Many buyers are longing for the days of 2008 and 2009 when 25-30% discounts were being offered.

Area “DT” – MLS defined market area for downtown Austin – has such diverse product that average numbers cannot be used without qualification.   For instance, it is necessary to qualify the age, location, and level of amenities when comparing Cambridge Tower to 360 Condos. ($226psf vs. $385psf, respectively)

Average price for area DT was $283.91 per foot, based on data collected from 22 transactions recorded in May.  That is down from May of 2009 when pricing was $303 per foot across 13 transactions; however, the spread between list price and sale price in 2009 was closer to 10% – much more volatile.

The MLS data does not include private developer sales (Spring, Austonian, W Hotel, Four Seasons).  Multiple sources have shared with us that the W entered into approximately 10 deals in May, and will not accept offers with more than a 5% discount.   The Austonian recieved their certificate of occupancy and is planning it’s first closing next week.  No news from the Four Seasons.

Registered DAB subscribers may access the complete May 2010 transaction report.


May Downtown Austin Condo Sales

AddressBuildingBedroomsSquare FeetSold Price
1212 Guadalupe St # 205Penthouse Condos1420Call
1212 Guadalupe St # 706Penthouse Condos1592Call
1801 Lavaca ST # 7BCambridge Tower0460Call
301 E 4th ST # 326Railyard Condos1520Call
54 Rainey St # 715Milago Condos1756Call
800 Brazos St # 1210Brazos Place1623Call
710 Colorado St # C-7Brown Building1711Call
505 W 7th St # 317Posada Del Rey2923Call
410 E 5th St # 204Avenue Lofts1852Call
40 N Interstate 35 # 11D3Towers Of Town Lake21533Call
360 Nueces ST # 3806360 Condos1748Call
1801 Lavaca St # 13ACambridge Tower21301Call
360 Nueces St # 3401360 Condos1801Call
1801 Lavaca ST # 13ECambridge Tower21294Call
1801 Lavaca St # 13FCambridge Tower21294Call
710 Colorado St # A-5Brown Building1849Call
800 Brazos St # 1101Brazos Place21170Call
901 W 9th St # 802Nokonah1754Call
40 N Interstate 35 # 10D3Towers Of Town Lake21533Call
360 Nueces ST # 2211360 Condos21280Call
360 Nueces St # 4204360 Condos2998Call
54 Rainey St # 1104Milago Condos21189Call
Data collected from Austin MLS for the downtown area

DAB STATS – April Transaction Summary

This awesome image is from nataliedee.com

With 12 recorded transactions this past month, downtown Austin hosted 300% more transactions compared to April of 2009, when only four transactions were recorded.  For the month of April, the average sale price per foot remains unchanged between 2009 and 2010 at $276psf.

To provide a little more perspective, Q1 2010 compared to Q1 2009 saw negligible increase to $304 psf from $300 psf, respectively.  What is more interesting, IMO, last year in the first quarter of 2009 only 16 transactions were recorded; conversely, this year in the first quarter there were 33 transactions recorded!

This significant increase in recorded transactions, year-to-year, requires qualification.  Numerous unrecorded (off MLS) developer sales occurred in 2009.  Now, those buildings are sold out, and we’re seeing a surge in re-sale activity, which is recorded in the MLS.  This bodes well for transparent transaction data.  Re-sales are back, baby!  This is a trend we should continue to see for a few years.

A more detailed transaction list and statistical report can be accessed in the member area.

April Downtown Austin Condo Sales

Data collected from Austin MLS for the downtown area
AddressBuildingSquare FeetBedroomsSale Price
54 Rainey St #523Milago Condos11572Call
1122 Colorado St #1702Westgate Tower8932Call
201 E 4th St #205Railyard Condos11963Call
1212 Guadalupe St #304Penthouse Condos4661Call
360 Nueces St #3811360 Condos12802Call
1801 Lavaca St #7DCambridge Tower11891Call
311 W 5th St #702Plaza Lofts18962Call
40 N I-35 #4B2Towers Of Town Lake14592Call
411 Brazos St #204Brazos Lofts13511Call
1704 West Ave #304West Ave Condos7861Call
54 Rainey St #619Milago Condos7561Call
360 Nueces St #1810360 Condos7701Call

DAB STATS – Downtown Apartment Occupancy

Checkout the occupancy rates (as of Tuesday) for downtown Austin apartment buildings.

Monarch @ 94% or 287 out of 305 units
Legacy On The Lake @ 92% or 172 out of 187 units
Ashton Austin @ 87% leased, 83% occupied or 214 out of 258 units
Gables West @ 92% or 220 out of 239 units
Gables Park Plaza @ 38% out of 188 units

And, it’s a very safe bet that AMLI Downtown (220 units) and AMLI on 2nd (231 units) are hovering between 95-98% occupied.

Our empirical data suggests that lease rates at apartment buildings are hovering in the ball park of $1.75 per rentable foot, on average, net of incentives.  MLS statistical reports for year-to-date downtown Austin condo leases corroborates this, reporting $1.88 per foot, on average, and ranging from $1.00-$2.40psf.  In 2008, before many of our new apartment buildings were completes, lease rates were even higher.  With no new projects on the horizon, and a strong demand for the urban life style, expect downtown lease rates to remain stable.


5 Reasons You Should Sign Up For Jude’s Quarterly Report

Just posted my review of downtown Austin residential real estate for the first quarter of 2010. This report is only available to registered DAB readers. Why should you bother?

1) You want accurate and timely information on the market
2) You live, work, or care about downtown Austin
3) You are interested in selling or buying a downtown condo
4) You want access to information (like this report) not available anywhere else
5) There’s no commitment, if you don’t like it then unsubscribe with one click

Sign up in the DAB member area, where in addition to the report, you will have access to sales data in real time. As always, we appreciate your input as to how to improve DAB. Check it out!


Latest From Downtown Austin Facts

What’s it like to be a single mom, or a married couple in downtown Austin? Take a listen…

The audio links above represent the latest radio spots from DowntownAustinFacts.com (link).  I still feel compelled to qualify their proclamation that there are only 400 condos remaining.  From one perspective, that number is insufficient to describe the number of units available for purchase.  From another perspective, that number paints an overly rosy picture of what’s available to the average buyer. To elaborate further:

First, this number (400) represents new construction and doesn’t include the approximately 175 resales that are on the market.

Second, this number represents the inventory at four buildings: the Austonian, Block 21 Residences (aka W Hotel Residences), Residences on Town Lake (aka Four Seasons Residences), and Spring condos.

Third, how many new “attainably” priced units are available?  Nearly ZERO – ok, there are five units at Sabine and two units at the Shore condos.

Let’s get this out of the way for the trolling skeptics… DowntownAustinFacts.com is a website sponsored by a consortium of builders.   That fact doesn’t change the reality that downtown Austin is facing a shortage of condos for sale over the next 5-10 years, especially priced in the 200-400k range.  THE INVENTORY IS LOCKED IN.  You will not see any new projects come out of the ground until at least 2013, perhaps longer.


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The December Discount

The December Discount


I’m sympathetic with contrarian investing practices.  You’ve likely heard that, in the real estate market, spring and summer are the “buying” seasons.  If that’s true, then there is an economic case for improving your purchasing power during the non-buying seasons.

Taking a two mile radius from downtown Austin, we show the average-discount-from-list-price ratio of sale price to list price (subtract from 1 to get the discount) for real estate sold in June and December. The data is obtained from the MLS and goes back to 2004.  On average, since 2005, you can buy central Austin property for less in December than you can in June.  Last year if you purchased in December then you saved an additional 3% from asking price.

I call it the “December Discount”.

This chart affirms, at least in part, that in recent years buyers purchasing in the “off season” are getting slightly better deals than buyers in spring and summer.  Since 2005 you can see the December Discount increasing with each year.  With the FHA loans currently filling a void in the credit markets, and a tax incentive bringing more buyers to the table, this year we might not see a continued divergence beyond 3%.