Will You Take Advantage of Austin’s Resurgence, or Will You Read about It 2 Months Later?
By almost all reports, Austin leads the nation in attracting businesses and people. When we finally read about the national economic recovery, Austin will already be riding the curve up, ahead of all but a handful of local economies around the nation. That means mortgage rates will have started rising, houses will be selling just a little better, and chances are you will have missed the opportunity to buy closest to the bottom of the real estate market if you haven’t already bought or refinanced your mortgage.
So, we find ourselves here in Austin at the forefront, the vanguard, the leading edge of coming out of the economic slump our state and the nation seems to be in. While national reports have our country at 9.9% unemployment, Texas Labor Market Information (www.twc.state.tx.us) shows our state unemployment rate over the summer at around 8.5%, Austin and Round Rock 6.7% , Cedar Park 5.7%, and Pflugerville 5.9%. Isn’t that awesome!? (These are from the "not seasonally adjusted" numbers.)
Update: I wrote this in October 2010. Since then the September numbers have come out (again, not adjusted) Texas: 7.9%, Austin 6.7% unchanged, Round Rock 6.2%, Cedar Park 5.4%, Pflugerville 5.3%. Perhaps the surrounding cities show movement because of the smaller economies, and they are moving in the right direction.
As awesome as that is, it also means that all this economic reporting we are reading and hearing tends to be dated. It would make more sense for us who live here to find our own indicators to focus on. If you read any article that talks about the economic recovery, they talk about consumer spending leading the recovery, and reduced unemployment as a necessity. As a professional in the residential real estate business, I believe that people need to feel more confident about keeping their current job, or getting a job they don’t have. Many of my real estate colleagues have voiced agreement.
That is why I have come up with a project for myself to keep track of consumer spending, employment, and pending residential sales (for houses only) at the local level. I would also like to hear from any readers about what you can observe that might indicate people are spending more or people are getting confident about their employment.
People in line at Starbucks: My first favorite thing will be counting people in line at my local Starbucks. I plan to make it a point to go to the Anderson Mill / 183 Starbucks regularly two days out of the week, Mondays and Saturdays between 8am and 9am, and count the people in line. The Anderson Mill and 183 location will be a great indicator for northwest neighborhoods like Anderson Mill, Milwood, The Mountain (Park at Spicewood Springs), Spicewood at Balcones, Barrington Oaks, even Avery Ranch, Forest/Silver Oaks, and others in that area.
Online job postings: The other easy-enough-thing-to-do is to get a count of the job openings on some of the public web sites for job hunters. Using no other criteria but “Austin TX”, at http://www.indeed.com/ and http://www.simplyhired.com/, those searches returned counts of 29,696 and 27,934 respectively. For the same search, workintexas.org showed 425, and http://www.dice.com/ showed 912 for postings within the last 30 days. I am thinking postings on these types of site will increase as companies begin to hire again. (I tried http://www.monster.com/, but it limited the results to 1000 records.)
Pending residential real estate contracts: Since I am an Austin real estate agent with a constant pulse on the market, I am also going to keep track of Pending sales. Lately a big story in local real estate has been the record setting inventory of Active listings for single family homes on the Austin Board of REALTORS® multiple listing service. I want to be on top of the story when Pending contracts begin to surpass new listings over a given period of time. With the current hold up on foreclosures, we should also see something happening in these numbers whether they continue to be stopped or released.
The Austin area markets are going to lead the way out of this economic slump. Stay tuned with me to see how it moves.
Information prepared and provided by George Mora of Realty Austin. George is an Austin real estate agent who lives and works in Austin, Texas. Find George’s contact on his Realty Austin agent profile, or search Austin real estate and all Austin homes for sale in Austin, Texas on RealtyAustin.com.