Sales at the five newest downtown condo buildings heated up in recent weeks, showing a continued trend since late summer that condos are selling well despite the sluggish housing market overall.
In October, there were 30 closings for downtown condos, according to Travis County data confirmed by developers. Twenty-one of those were at the three latest high-profile condo buildings downtown: the Four Seasons Residences, Spring Condominium and The Austonian.
Meanwhile, in a listing published last week in the Austin Business Journal, the W — the only remaining building under construction with condos downtown — is slated to open in early January with 60 percent of its 159 units sold so far. And just across Lady Bird Lake on Barton Springs Road, Barton Place Condos has sold 54 percent of its 270 units since it opened in February. Some real estate brokers said those numbers have increased slightly in recent days.
The latest sales figures are a better-than-expected outcome for the condo market. The economic downturn had many in the real estate community thinking new luxury condos in and around downtown would sell slowly and with falling prices.
Meanwhile, single-family homes sales have been down in recent months, including a 24 percent decline in September compared with the previous September.
Real estate experts have been waiting to see more transparent data on the newer condo buildings and whether higher-priced condos could sell at a time when people are facing challenges obtaining financing or are holding back on buying. Developers have remained relatively tight-lipped over the last year on how many units they’ve been selling, fueling rumors of slow sales and prompting critics to be skeptical that spin, more than substance, was driving positive speculation.
But Terry Mitchell, strategic marketing director for The Austonian, said Austin has remained a good place to live in or move to. And with no construction on any new condos under way, the demand has only strengthened.
“People are recognizing that the supply of downtown condos is limited,” Mitchell said, noting that there are less than 300 units left in downtown Austin. That doesn’t include the 124 units left at Barton Place Condos just outside of downtown on Barton Springs Road.
In the past five years, more than 1,800 downtown condos have come online.
Real estate brokers such as Courtney Oldham of The Oldham Group-Keller Williams Realty have marketed and shown condos at Barton Place near Zilker Park. She said the limited supply is a selling point because the market wasn’t overbuilt.
“I don’t think that anyone has a crystal ball on when the market will start to increase again, but we are poised to come out a lot faster because there’s just not a lot of supply,” Oldham said.