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Round Rock, TX – What Housing Crisis?

I went on a walk this morning and decided to go through the new houses that they are building in the neighborhood near us. The houses are being built by DR Horton in what used to be farmland behind us. As I was walking through the new neighborhood there were a few things that stood out about these houses.

Some Things Stand Out

The first thing I notice is that they are building a lot of houses. My neighborhood is still under construction as well but they are only working on around 4-6 houses at a time. On the first street of this new neighborhood I counted 12 houses under construction. The next block had 3 more and the block after that is has another 3. That is almost 20 houses being built at the same time in this little subdivision. On top of the houses that are under construction there are several houses that were recently completed. This section of the neighborhood is only about 6 months old.

The second thing that I notice about these houses is that there are a lot of “Sold” signs in front of these houses. My count of houses with sold signs in front of them is 15. “For Sale” signs come in at 5. Houses that do not have any sign in front and are under construction are ~10.

This all struck me as being pretty weird because of everything you hear on the news of how bad the housing market is. Somehow, some way though, Round Rock Texas and DR Horton are beating the odds. There are a couple of reasons why they both are doing this I believe.

How They are Beating the Odds

One reason that homes are still selling here is that there was never a bubble here in Central Texas. In fact from what I can see prices have gone up in the last three years and are still going up. Three years ago we bought a DR Horton house in this same area for $160k. It was a 4 bedroom, 2 bath house at 2200sqft. Today for $160k all you can get is a 3bdrm, 2bth, 1400sqft house. So basically in three years the same amount of money gets you 800sqft less.

Another reason that I think this neighborhood is booming is financing. In talking with the sales guy for the neighborhood it seems that this area was deemed farmland in the last census and therefore still qualifies for USDA financing. USDA I believe gives you up to 100% financing with no PMI (I could be wrong on that). Couple that financing with the housing prices in the $150k-$200k range and you get people buying.

Conclusion

As bad as things are around the country in regard to the recession and the housing bubble, Central Texas still seems to be doing pretty good. The unemployment rate is still below the national average and as mentioned before home prices never spiked so they are not falling. It is nice to live in an area that has some stability to it in times like these.

Pictures of the New Neighborhood