Austin Becoming Least Affordable City Outside California

The Texas capital, once one of the most affordable metro areas, is experiencing a housing affordability crisis as median prices soar and longtime residents face displacement.

2 minute read

December 1, 2021, 7:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Austin Traffic

Philip Arno Photography / Shutterstock

Austin's burgeoning popularity is creating a crisis of affordability in the city's housing market, reports Edgar Sandoval. The Texas capital, which has seen explosive growth that shows no signs of stopping, "is on track to become by year’s end the least affordable major metro region for homebuyers outside of California," according to a Zillow forecast. As Sandoval writes, "With an average of 180 new residents moving to the city every day in 2020, housing inventory is very low, realtors said. Multiple offers, bidding wars and blocks-long lines outside open houses are commonplace."

The current median home price of $536,000 is almost $100,000 more than at the same time last year, and more than twice the median cost in 2011. Meanwhile, renters are feeling similar pressures, with an average apartment going for $1,600, a rise of 38 percent in the last ten years.

Previously one of the more affordable urban centers in the country, Austin now faces a housing crisis that is displacing longtime residents and pushing some into homelessness. The problem is so alarming that, earlier this year, the city hired a 'displacement officer' tasked with "preventing widespread gentrification even as cranes continue to dot the skyline and new structures climb ever higher." The office will receive $300 million over the next 13 years, which many say is not enough to address the growing crisis as more residents find themselves having to relocate to more remote parts of the city.

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