As home sales continue, Southwest Austin Realtors adjust practices during pandemic

A photo of a row of houses in Southwest Austin
Southwest Austin Realtors report an active housing market despite procedural changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

Southwest Austin Realtors report an active housing market despite procedural changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

Amid concerns of an economic downturn, real estate professionals in the Austin area—and in Southwest Austin, specifically—report an active spring housing market. While Realtors have had to adapt to new tactics during the novel coronavirus pandemic, demand for homes has persisted.

“Initially, there was a pause due to COVID-19 concerns as we pivoted to handle the changes to ensure safety, but now consumers are still facing multiple offers. This has been true for both our buyer and seller transactions in the $300,000 through $1M+ price range since the [shelter in place] order began,” said Jeff Burke and Kristen Fojtik, Southwest Austin-based Realty Austin agents, said in a joint statement to Community Impact Newspaper.

Changes implemented by Realtors such as Burke and Fojtik include virtual home showings and sanitary precautions for in-person showings, including face masks, gloves and disposable booties to slip over shoes, they said.

Despite these hindrances, the Austin Board of Realtors reports comparatively strong sales in the Southwest Austin region for the month of March, when social distancing and shelter-in-place requirements kicked off. The ABoR cites 406 closed sales during March, including single-family homes, townhouses and condominiums—a 12.4% year-over-year increase, significantly higher than the entire Austin-Round Rock metropolitan statistical area's 2.2% year-over-year increase. The Southwest Austin area had 330 closed sales in February, according to the ABoR.

Burke and Fojtik said closed sales can represent a lag time from when the sale began to process, meaning many March sales could be attributed to prepandemic conditions. However, while the ABoR has not yet released data on April home sales, it did report 348 already pending sales at the end of March, indicating April likely saw higher sales than February, if not March.


Real estate professionals note the state of Austin’s market is not necessarily reflective of the nation’s, as Austin’s microeconomy and especially its real estate market have a history of resilience in times of economic strain.

“We do live in something of a bubble here in Austin,” Realty Austin’s Romeo Manzanilla said in a panel discussion with Community Impact Newspaper. “That’s why our unemployment has always been so low.”

While navigating sales during the pandemic, some Austin-area Realtors do note shifts in buyers’ inclinations. Edie Phillips, an agent with JB Goodwin Realtors, said she has seen heightened interest in new construction homes due to a desire to avoid person-to-person contact and mitigate contamination risks.

“They’re okay with having to wait eight, nine or 10 months in order to get their home built,” Phillips said.

Although this trend may be tied to concerns of the present, Realtors believe some changes brought on by the pandemic, including showing procedures, are here to stay.

“We believe the widespread innovation to conduct virtual client meetings and property tours will stick around long after we return to a normal environment,” Burke and Fojtik said.
By Olivia Aldridge

Reporter, Central Austin

Olivia joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in March 2019. She covers public health, business, development and Travis County government. A graduate of Presbyterian College in South Carolina, Olivia worked as a reporter and producer for South Carolina Public Radio before moving to Texas. Her work has appeared on NPR and in the New York Times.



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