Williamson County is a hotbed of growth; anyone who has lived here, even if for a short period of time, can testify that new housing communities pop up daily, there is roadwork on major throughways, and slightly longer commute times are a reality for Williamson County residents and are indications of a booming economy. The Texas State Data Center marked 2015 as the year that Williamson County surpassed 500,000 residents; showing a 16.8% increase in population from the 2010 census. This means that Williamson County now accounts for more than 25% of all population in the metro area.
How does this growth affect real estate? From 2010 – 2015, the average of the monthly median home prices increased 31.5% (see chart to the right) and the number of homes sold nearly doubled (5,694 in 2010 and 9,621 in 2015).
With Williamson County on the cusp of 10,000 transactions per year, the housing market is as strong as ever with over 35% of all real estate transactions happening in Williamson County.
The population projections from the Data Center estimate that Williamson County will reach over 1,000,000 residents in 2032, and be just shy of 2 million residents by 2050, assuming the current growth rate of 3 - 4% per year remains steady.
“Many employers who move to the Austin area are looking for more affordable housing for their employees than what can be found in Travis County,” says David Tandy, CEO of Gracy Title. “The average home price in Williamson was $263,100 while the average in Travis was $389,000, a difference of $125,900!”
This growth is attributed to many different factors coming together to create an ideal community where people want to live, work, and play. “Williamson County is strategically located in Central Texas,” says Dr. Jim Gaines, Chief Economist with The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. “The local communities have done a great job of prepping for the growth resulting from the overflow from Austin. North/South corridors are very important for residents to commute to/from Austin; Williamson County has done a great job with either constructing or widening many of the major roadways.”
Both Dr. Gaines and Mr. Tandy agree that 2016 will be somewhat of a “breather” with a slight slowdown in the market due to outside conditions. “Job growth will slow somewhat in 2016 as Texas absorbs the impact of lower oil prices, stock market volatility, and impact on exports from even more volatile foreign markets such as China, but Texas will continue to be one of the stronger, long-term job markets in the US,” says Tandy.
The largest issue facing WC Real Estate to consider is affordability; while Williamson County is still more affordable than Travis County, there are still some concerns about how fast home prices have risen in comparison to salaries. According to the US Census Bureau, the average salary of a resident of the Austin-Round Rock MSA is $63,600; however, the median price of a home in Williamson County is close to $250,000. “We’ve had five years of boom, over 10% appreciation year-over-year and home prices around four times an annual salary, which is a stretch for many people,” says Dr. Gaines. “A 3:1 or 3.5:1 ratio of home price to salary is optimal, desirable, and sustainable.” With only 29% of the homes sold in Williamson County priced under $200,000, this is a cause for concern.
As our community continues to grow, do not shut yourself out of new opportunities. We are fortunate enough to be in the booming economy of Texas and the WC will be mostly spared from the oil crisis. Yes, our tight housing inventory is a growing pain, but Williamson County is one of the best places to call home.