By Lee Whitaker • 2018 President

By now you’ve heard the news, 2018 is expected to be yet another banner year for home sales in the Greater Austin metro area. And yes, it will continue to be a seller’s market characterized by low supply and high demand. According to every expert we’ve heard from in the last month or so, tech companies will expand their footprint or choose Austin as their home, and with the unemployment rate hovering around 3 percent, these companies have no choice but to attract would be employees from other markets. For the region, that means population growth and more pressure on the housing market.

Eldon Rude of 360º Real Estate Analytics at the HBA’s recent Housing Forecast said he expects builders to build 7 percent more homes in 2018 than they did in 2017 (that translates to approximately 17,000 housing starts). However, given the need for 15,000 starts per year just within the City of Austin’s limits alone, we are nowhere close to building the number of homes needed to keep up with demand.

Low inventory region wide will continue to create an environment where multiple offers are common and a house selling for more than asking price is the expectation. As a REALTOR selling in this market, you have likely been in such a situation; perhaps multiple situations like this with your client(s). The emotional rollercoaster and stress of these scenarios can be overwhelming for everyone involved.

As president of the HBA of Greater Austin, I encourage you to include new homes when searching for options for your buyers. There are a number of advantages to buying a new home. And while yes, new homes usually come at a higher sticker price than comparable existing homes, when calculating the “cost of ownership,” new homes are much more affordable than you would think. For example, new homes don’t have the maintenance and repair costs that typically come with an older, existing property. New homes are up to six times more energy efficient than older homes, saving significant monthly utility costs. Warranties on new homes add additional protection that doesn’t come along with a re-sale home. Let’s not forget how valuable it is to remove the layer of stress of hunting for that perfect home, putting in an offer and then losing out to another buyer.

Let’s talk upgrades. Talk to your buyers about their expectations. If they are looking at resales and mention the need for upgrades or updating different rooms, consider the cost of those projects. It’s possible that once you add up project costs that you find buying a new home with the upgrades already built in is a bigger bargain. Plus, builders often offer free upgrades and discounts that add up to thousands of dollars in additional savings.

And don’t forget the benefit of selling new homes for you, the REALTOR! Builders are consistently offering higher commissions and bonuses on inventory and to-be-built homes. Some builders have REALTOR loyalty programs where you earn larger commissions as you sell more of their homes. Still others offer big prizes and vacations. Building a relationship with builders in areas where you specialize can pay off big.

Visit for a list of new homes on sale now. Looking for a custom builder? Search our database of custom builders who can build to your client’s specifications.

Save the Date: 2018 Parade of Homes™ Unveiling — March 29

REALTORS, you’re invited to join the HBA of Greater Austin, Travisso and Platinum Top 50 REALTORS for a VIP insiders reveal of the 2018 Parade of Homes. The event will be held from 6-8 p.m. at the new Fairmont Hotel in downtown Austin. Drinks and appetizers will be served. Guests will have the opportunity to meet the builders, learn about the details of this year’s event at Travisso in Leander, network with colleagues and enjoy live music. RSVP to  RL