The median home price in Community Impact Newspaper's Central Austin readership area reached $701,450 in May, according to data from the Austin Board of Realtors, topping $700,000 for the first time.

Across the entire city, prices are breaking records, with Austin's median home price up 34.9% year over year to an all-time high of $566,500, but the capital city's core remains especially expensive. Median home prices in Central Austin have risen each month in 2021, climbing up over $100,000 since January and more than $150,000 since May of 2020, when pandemic stay-at-home orders slowed down the market during what is typically a strong selling season for residential real estate.

As the upward trend persists and inventory levels remain critically low, with less than a month of housing stock available, local real estate experts say affordable living options are becoming unattainable.

"Access to affordable home ownership has become a challenge for many Austin residents, but shrinking inventory, lot and labor shortages, and rising construction costs means it’s not an easy process to get more affordable housing on the market," said Nora Linares-Moeller, executive director of HousingWorks Austin, in a statement. "The solution here is to be strategic about placing lower-priced homes and rentals in all parts of the city and urge our city’s leaders to continue making affordability a priority."

ABoR representatives say Austin City Council's recent vote to increase the city's homestead exemption from 10% to 20% is a step toward making home ownership more affordable, and that local officials should focus on similar solutions moving forward.

“As new companies relocate to Austin and the city’s popularity draws in new residents, the sheer demand for housing has created a critical inventory shortage, reinforcing that affordability and accessibility to housing across our region is a real concern and should be a top priority for local leaders," 2021 ABoR President Susan Horton said.