With High-paying Jobs Aplenty in Austin, Dallas and Houston, Incoming Homebuyers Can Live Like Royalty
Redfin Takes a Look at How they’re Shaping the Market in each City
Reminiscent of California after World War II, Americans are moving in droves to Texas in search of high-paying energy and professional services jobs and low cost of living. Between 2008 and 2012, more Americans moved to Texas than any other state, with an average 512,000 people moving there each year, according to U.S. Census data.
For new residents, particularly those from high cost of living states like California and New York, life in Texas brings the chance to enjoy the finer things in life, particularly when it comes to real estate. After all, the median list price in Dallas was $192,500 in October, compared to $389,450 on Long Island and $495,000 in Los Angeles. According to Redfin Los Angeles Agent Eric Tan, “My home sellers who are relocating to Texas expect their money to stretch much further there. For $400,000, they plan to cash in their 1,200 square foot, outdated bungalow in California for a palatial Texas home that has all the bells and whistles.”
The state’s economic boom and its migrants’ upscale expectations seem to be driving real estate upgrades. Since 2008, specialty home features, such as granite countertops, swimming pools, and solar panels have become increasingly common in Texas homes. Meanwhile, home size overall is starting to fall. Unsurprisingly, these changes have also been accompanied by price gains across the state. We took a close look at homes in Austin, Dallas, and Houston to see how each city’s real estate stock stacks up. Spoiler alert: the city with the most luxurious homes is NOT Dallas.
While Dallas may be known for its cosmopolitan ambiance, Houston has led the way with high-end finishes. So far this year, 47.8 percent of home listings highlighted luxurious features such as marble, granite and stainless steel, up from 37.2 percent in 2008. According to Redfin Houston agent Tara Waggoner, “It’s not just wealthy energy execs who demand luxury amenities like upgraded kitchens and bathrooms; first-time buyers want granite countertops and spa bathrooms too.” Luxury is not lost in Dallas or Austin, however. Between 2008 and 2013, upscale features increased from 33.3 percent to 43.9 percent in Dallas and 29.3 percent to 41.5 percent in Austin.
Austinites Live Life Al Fresco
Hot or not, Austinites increasingly want to enjoy the outdoors. In 2013, 57.6 percent of home listings in Austin included outdoor living features, such as a deck, pool or garden, up from 43.3 percent in 2008. “With so many lakes, rivers, and trails in the area, Austin residents are an outdoorsy bunch. This enthusiasm extends to their home, and having a place to relax outside is key for most buyers,” according to Redfin Austin agent Cyndy Stewart. Houstonians and Dallasites also enjoy fresh air; between 2008 and 2013 outdoor home features increased from 47.7 percent to 54.4 percent in Houston and from 46.4 percent to 53.9 percent in Dallas.
Green Living Takes Root in Austin
Possibly influenced by new residents from California, Austinites are increasingly interested in green living. In the Austin metro area, 4.9 percent of homes for sale in 2013 boasted green phrases such as “solar,” “sustainable,” and “energy efficient,” up from 3.1 percent in 2008. Dallas and Houston are green with envy, boasting only 4.1 and 3.9 percent of homes with environmentally-friendly features, respectively. “Green living is en vogue in Austin. With green home improvement stores like Treehouse popping up all over town, adding environmentally-friendly home features can be a do-it-yourself affair,” according to Redfin Austin agent Lorella Martin.
Home Size Shrinking Across the State…
Maybe not everything is bigger in Texas. As the economy has boomed, homes for sale in Texas have started to drop in size, suggesting that Texans and new residents may increasingly prefer homes in urban areas. While homes are the largest in Houston at 2,184 square feet, the median home size since 2011 has fallen steadily across all three cities.
…While Prices Keep Growing
While Texas remains inexpensive compared to major coastal cities, continued rising prices could lead migrants to look for greener (and cheaper) pastures. Over the past year alone, home prices grew at double digit rates in all three cities, growth probably driven in part by demand from the state’s well-paid new residents. Median list prices in Austin are the most expensive, at $250,000 as of October, but home prices in Houston have appreciated the most, growing 14.5 percent over the past year. In comparison, list prices in Austin and Dallas grew 10.1 and 10.0 percent, respectively.
About this Report
Redfin Local Insights is based on interviews with local Redfin agents and statistics compiled from the Multiple Listing Service, public records data, and Redfin’s proprietary statistics, which are anecdotes about winning and losing offers by Redfin agents for Redfin’s home-buying clients. To evaluate luxury homes, we searched home listings that included the phrases: gourmet kitchen, marble, stainless steel, granite, crown molding, floor-to-ceiling windows, wine room, gym, private elevator, panoramic views. For outdoor living, we searched home listings that mentioned: BBQ, deck, outdoor kitchen, pool, hot tub, patio, fire pit, garden, gazebo. For greenest homes, we searched home listings that mentioned: solar, LEED, bamboo, cork, clean-tech, sustainable, energy efficient, Energy Star, recycled.