Hays County's real estate market soared in 2020

Despite a spring slowdown, real estate sales in Hays County saw double-digit increases in volume and price in 2020. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Despite a spring slowdown, real estate sales in Hays County saw double-digit increases in volume and price in 2020. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Despite a spring slowdown, real estate sales in Hays County saw double-digit increases in volume and price in 2020. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

While the pandemic put the hurt on a number of industries in 2020, the real estate market in the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Hays County, bounced back from a spring slowdown in spectacular fashion by breaking annual sales records.

A news release from the Austin Board of Realtors said 40,165 homes were sold in 2020 in the MSA for a grand total of $17,579,802,503. Hays County homes accounted for 4,864 of the home sales, for a total of $1,833,669,611.

“The pandemic only increased demand for all types of housing across the region, pushing inventory to near-zero levels and creating the strongest sellers’ market [ABoR] has ever seen,” 2021 ABoR President Susan Horton said in the news release.

Dr. James Gaines, former chief economist for the Texas Real Estate Research Center, said in the news release that the market is fueled by years of high population growth and employment gains, lifestyle changes following the pandemic and record-low interest rates.

"The pandemic fostered an environment where many families increased personal savings helping some transition from renting to ownership, while others needed to ‘move up’ for more space while working from home," Gaines said. "Despite a steep slowdown during shelter-in-place orders this spring, the market came roaring back in the summer with no drop-off at the end of the calendar year.”


Realtor Eric Johnson of Keller Williams said the current climate made for a market that was friendly to sellers and buyers alike, with low interest rates being the biggest factor he witnessed behind the boom in sales.

Johnson sells homes across the central and south Texas and was the San Antonio Board of Realtors 2020 REALTOR Salesperson of the Year.

"Right now's really a good time to buy or sell a house because the home prices have gone up, and the sellers are reaping that additional money for their home, but the buyers, because they qualify for so much more now ... it's allowing more buyers to be in the market and to be able to afford this," he said.

Johnson listed some of the same market drivers Gaines and Horton mentioned, such as changing lifestyles due to the pandemic. He also said out-of-state buyers taking advantage of comparatively lower home prices were increasingly prevalent.

"I would say a third of my business has come from California, New York and Colorado [in 2020] because they can just afford so much more," Johnson said. "A lot of these are work-from-home people and they're still getting their wage from their [out-of-state] employment, and they're just able to buy so much more between the home [price] and then with the cost of living."

In December, housing inventory in Hays County dropped year over year from 1.4 months to 0.4 months of inventory, the lowest figure of all counties in the MSA, which contributed to multiple offers being made on many homes. However, the number of listings in the county actually rose by 6.6% last year to 5,220.

These factors contributed to 2020 median prices for homes in Hays County increasing 10.9% year over year to $295,000.

“The Central Texas housing market is incredibly competitive and moving at lightning speed right now,” Horton said in the release. “The complexity of a home sale is at an all-time high, as it has become commonplace for homes to receive multiple offers well over list price.”

Johnson said demand for flex rooms and extra bedrooms for home gyms and office spaces also rose since the pandemic began. Pools—already a premium, he said—were also in higher demand as families spent more time.

Johnson added that first-time homebuyers from the millennial and Gen Z generations were seizing the opportunity of lower interest rates, moving further toward home ownership or moving into higher-priced homes.

"I've been dealing with a lot of first-time homebuyers this year, and we're seeing a lot of interest in first-time homebuyers getting out of an apartment or getting out of a small house that they're leasing to start building equity and building their net worth," Johnson said. "The biggest hurdle for them is saving up for the down payment for for program."

Gaines said the outlook for the housing market this year was strong as well and that homes are likely to continue to sell quickly.

"If you are ready to buy a home, now is the time to take advantage of low interest rates that boost your buying power and plant roots in Central Texas,” Horton said.
By Warren Brown
Warren joined Community Impact at the beginning of 2020 as the editor of its New Braunfels paper and now reports the news in San Marcos, Buda and Kyle. Warren previously wrote for the Dallas Observer and Fort Worth Weekly and he brings a passion for truth and equality to his reporting.


MOST RECENT

The Austin Trail of Lights will open nighly from Nov. 28 through Dec. 31. (Courtesy Trail of Lights Foundation)
PHOTOS: Austin Trail of Lights returns to Zilker Park this week

The traditional holiday light show is open from Nov. 28 through New Year's Eve.

Manor Market Refillery relocated to 331 W. Hopkins St., San Marcos, on Nov. 24. (Zara Flores/Community Impact Newspaper)
Manor Market Refillery relocates in San Marcos

The shop aims to reduce waste with sustainable products.

Commissioners on Nov. 22 voted to approve a density change to preliminary plans for The Preserve, a neighborhood that city documents said could include 565 single-family homes at the northeast corner of Teel and Panther Creek Parkways. (Courtesy city of Frisco)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: Neighborhood near PGA Frisco could see larger lots; ERCOT says Texas power grid ready for expected winter demand and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Nov. 24.

The utility's board of directors will vote on the proposed changes at December's meeting. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
PEC members ask board to not raise solar rates

The utility's board of directors will vote on the proposed changes at December's meeting.

Local and state officials have made statements welcoming Samsung to Taylor following the announcement that the city will be home to its new $17 billion semiconductor fabrication plant. (Courtesy KXAN)
State, local officials react to Texas governor, Samsung joint announcement

Local and state officials have made statements welcoming Samsung to Taylor following the announcement that the city will be home to its new $17 billion semiconductor fabrication plant. 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sits beside Samsung CEO Dr. Kinam Kim as he announces the company is brining a $17 billion facility to Taylor. (Screnshot via KXAN)
Samsung makes it official: Announcement from Governor's Mansion confirms $17B facility coming to Taylor

Nearly a year after Williamson County officials began pitching Samsung to bring a megafacility to the area, the electronics giant has made it official.

The battery and solar power project is considered the largest capital investment in the so-called "Texas Innovation Corridor," or Hays and Caldwell counties. (Courtesy Cypress Creek)
$1 billion capital investment in battery, solar power plant coming to Caldwell County; partnership with ACC-Hays Campus expected to certify technicians

Caldwell County will soon house a $1 billion development slated to create two battery and solar power plant facilities, expected to bring up to 400 jobs in the first year.

Mercedes Ojeda and Krissy Spruill service from South Austin to San Marcos, setting up yard-sized greeting cards. (Courtesy Card My Yard-Buda/Kyle)
Card My Yard franchise redefines celebrations in Hays County, South Austin in the age of the coronavirus

Mercedes Ojeda and Krissy Spruill opened their franchise right as the pandemic began to stop the country in its tracks.

Texas State University purchased a residence for the incoming president northwest of campus. (Joe Warner/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas State University purchases $2.9M residence to serve as home for new president

A new president is expected to replace retiring Texas State University President Denise Trauth in summer 2022.

Here is the latest data regarding COVID-19 in Hays County. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Hays County reports 1 COVID-19-related fatality Nov. 15-22

Hays County reported one new COVID-19-related fatality along with eight new hospitalizations. The data reflects the period from Nov. 15-22.

Bill Curci is a chief operating partner for Shuck Me, a seafood restaurant in Fort Worth. (Bailey Lewis/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: Fort Worth restaurant Shuck Me is fishing- and family-centric; a guide to Houston's 2021 Thanksgiving Day Parade and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Nov. 23.