HOLY COW: October Residential Transactions

I’m blown away by the number of closings that occurred in October for new luxury condos in downtown Austin.  Total number of downtown Austin condo transactions in October is confirmed at 29 30 closings! Resale data shows eight resale transactions, two of which were over $1MM.  Here’s the kicker: there were a combined 21 closings at the Four Seasons Residences, Spring, and The Austonian!

I spent extra time this month confirming transaction reports at the top-tier buildings.  “Spin” was minimal and there is genuine transaction velocity.

October Highlights:

  1. two $1MM+ resale transactions (not including developer sales at top-tier buildings)
  2. The Austonian shows 30 closed units, nine in October.
  3. The Four Seasons Residences shows 43 closed units, six in October.
  4. Spring Condos closed six seven in October.
  5. DANA’s Downtown Living Tour was the biggest ever with over 1000 attendees.
  6. W Hotel is hiring its staff, and buyers with contracts are anxiously awaiting their Q1 2011 move in date

One not so bright spot in the data: the number of resale transactions is down year-to-year, from 18 in October of 2009 to just eight this past month.  The data below highlights last month’s aggregate sales statistics for MLS Area “DT”.

MLS resale statistics

Investors and economic contrarians, like me, who demand value should continue to be on the prowl for deals on downtown Austin condos by focusing on the resale market.  Especially during the winter months, increased seasonal buying power is evident.  I’m working one short sale deal right now, and I’ve targeted others for my clients.  For example, I’m tracking a 2bd/2ba at Milago that can be purchased for under $299,900 SOLD (inquire with me).

The average resale price remains steady at $294.55 per square foot, compared to $293.65 psf in October 2009.  The chart below shows downtown resale transactions.  Notice the spike in buying activity during the springtime.  Now, notice the subsequent fall off…  that’s a buying opportunity. 🙂


MLS resale trends

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DAB STATS: September Residential Transactions

Chill out.  Cool off.  It’s not just the weather, but the market chilled in September yielding a stellar month for downtown Austin buyers.  In September, the average sale price of a downtown Austin condo was $282 per square foot.  This is based on 12 recorded transactions in the Austin MLS.   Year-to-year comparison shows last month was down from $338 per square foot across 20 transactions in September of 2009.  Month-to-month, September was down from $298 per square foot across 16 transactions recorded in August.


-Speaking of cooling off: hell froze over in September as the Statesman, frequently antagonistic to high rises, published an upbeat review of the downtown luxury market.

-A cartoon reminded us of an all too familiar exchange.

-We saw a glimpse of 2006 with a genuine bidding war on a bank owned unit at Brazos Place.

Top Tier Summary:

Not reflected in the MLS data are developers’ direct transactions at the top-tier buildings.  According to TCAD, the Austonian shows eight closings, which is one more than last month.  At the W Hotel Residences, with 159 total units, we’re told that 60% of the units are under contract, and the ability to now get into the building has been increasing contract velocity to 3-4 per month.  We’ve been informed that at the Four Seasons Residences ~40 units have closed, with another 40 under contract.

You can search for Austin condos and lofts using our map-based viewer.  Registered members of DAB can download a complete statistical and transaction report here.


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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 – 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.

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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.