Despite Affordability Concerns, Austin's Housing Market Keeps Up With Demand From Job Growth

Aug 1, 2019

It’s expensive to live in the Austin area, but it could be worse.

According to a new report from Apartment List, Austin is one of the better markets at keeping up with housing demand. The report compares the number of jobs created with the number of homes built between 2008 and 2018. Austin sits at 1.3 jobs per new housing unit – right in the sweet spot for that ratio, according to Chris Salviati, the housing economist who wrote the report.

Salviati says although people who live here are feeling the crunch, the city is relatively affordable compared to its peers.

"Austin remains relatively affordable compared to a lot of these places that are also booming economically, but not building enough housing,” he said, referring to cities like New York, San Francisco, Boston, Miami and Washington, D.C.

In terms of raw numbers – 252,488 jobs – Austin’s job growth was on par with large cities like Boston, Seattle and Denver since 2008. But Austin had the highest number of jobs created per capita in that time. To keep up with the influx of people, nearly 190,000 new housing units were built or are under construction. 

Still, some might say that’s not enough to keep housing prices reasonable. Rents are still rising, according to Apartment List. July rents were up 0.4 percent over June and 3.3 percent over a year ago.

Salviati says his analysis didn’t drill too far down into what types of jobs were created, but he has an idea of why housing costs are creeping up.

“A lot of the new [housing] supply that is coming online is kind of targeted toward folks that are earning pretty good incomes,” he said.

The Austin Board of Realtors says the median sales price for a single-family home in the metro area last month was $335,000 – up 4% over last year.