From low inventory to steadily increasing sale prices, the Austin real estate market might sound a bit intimidating to first-time homebuyers. But with the upcoming slower fall season and a median home price that’s affordable, buyers can still get into this tough market if they move quickly.

We’ve put together five critical tips buyers should know if they’re looking to call the capital of Texas home.

The median home price is increasing: Up 7.2 percent from 2016, Austin’s median home price climbed to $369,900, as reported in the Austin Board of REALTORS® (ABoR) July 2017 Market Report. Despite soaring sale prices, Austin still has one of the more affordable housing markets, especially for a city that’s been named to many best places to live lists.

And rising prices shouldn’t scare buyers just yet. The “Live Music Capital of the World” still has plenty of homes for below the median. But for lower-than-average prices, buyers will need to consider zip codes further from downtown Austin, and be ready to make an offer when they find a home that meets their criteria.

Inventory is still low: Austin’s current inventory is hovering around one to three months, with prices closer to the median average having near one month’s worth of inventory.

Although the competition won’t be as steep as spring and summer, in more desirable neighborhoods closer to downtown you may confront multiple offer situations and bidding wars. Buyers interested in purchasing a home in more suburban areas that are a 20 to 30 minute drive from the city center will have more options to choose from.

Homes are sitting on the market longer: Even with the low amount of inventory available, Austin homes are spending more days with for sale signs stuck in their lawns. Creeping up three days from last year, ABoR states single-family homes in the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) average 44 days on market. Homebuyers, especially first-timers, now have a better chance of grabbing the home of their dreams without having to make decisions or offers as quickly as before.

More new homes are popping up: Thanks to the recent shortage of available single-family homes, Austin’s seen a surge in master-planned communities and new construction. Pools, walking trails, fitness centers, and playgrounds are just a few of the amenities buyers can enjoy in recently built communities while many newly constructed homes feature eco-friendly designs and elements.

For first-time buyers looking for a solid investment that won’t break the bank, consider some of the communities and properties emerging in Southwest and Southeast Austin where prices start in the mid-$200’s.

The seasonal slowdown is fast approaching: After the sizzle of the summer market, inventory drops, competition reduces, and sellers are worn out from the frenzy. That means buyers have an opportunity to take advantage of Austin’s real estate market in the fall, one of the best times of year to snag a home for a good price. According to RealtyTrac’s analysis of 32 million home sales since 2000, October was the top month nationally where buyers got the best deal.

In addition to better purchase prices, real estate agents’ workloads dip during the fall season giving you the chance to pick from the top brokers. With less competition and sellers who are more willing to negotiate, your Austin agent could capture a sweet deal that you wouldn’t have been able to get just a few weeks ago.

– By Mandy Ellis, www.mandyellis.com

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