For more than a decade, Austin’s downtown was one of the most popular destinations in the country, a symbol of the city’s thriving economy and booming arts scene.
Now, it’s one of its most expensive places to buy a home, according to real estate agents.
And that’s not just because of rising property values, but because of a surge in the cost of living in the area.
That’s because Austin’s property market is so hot right now that, in some places, it is unaffordable for most people to buy homes.
And that means more and more people are leaving the city for more affordable places like Orlando and Houston.
The number of people leaving the country has more than doubled since the end of last year, according, an analysis by real estate firm RealtyTrac.
That trend is expected to continue, even though the city has experienced some of the strongest job growth in decades.
That is a big problem for the people who live here.
As of January, more than 6.3 million people lived in Austin, and more than 4.7 million people work in the city, according Realty Trac.
The average salary for Austin workers is more than $84,000, but it’s still well below the national average of $90,000.
And the median home price in Austin is $229,000 — less than a third of the national median of $320,000 for a home.
Austinites are getting a tough time.
“When you have such a strong and healthy economy in Austin — a city that is so close to the border and people have a lot of money — the real estate market has a tendency to go down, because it’s always a little bit up and down,” said Scott Gaffney, the chief executive of REALTORS.
“It’s a tough situation.”
As a result, some of Austin’s best-known property developers and real estate brokers are trying to find new ways to compete with home prices.
In the last five years, the average price for a house in Austin fell by 4 percent, according a Realtytrac report, while sales prices in the Austin area have dropped by 9 percent.
“It’s like going from a beach vacation to a house on the hill,” said Michael Czerniak, the vice president of real estate for RealtyTrust Group.
“You get to be a little more aware of the real-estate market.”
Gaffney said it is a tough market, but there is an easy solution.
“There are some real estate firms out there that are starting to do it in the most effective way possible, and that is to sell houses for a lower price point,” he said.
That means listing the homes on a website that doesn’t charge a commission, and then selling at a discount.
In other words, you sell the property at a lower value and the seller is selling at the same price.
In many cases, you can sell the homes for far less than the asking price.
That helps drive down prices, but some are skeptical of that strategy.
“We have some real-world examples where people are just getting hit with a big premium on a $500,000 house,” said Realty Trust’s Czenniak.
“And you’re selling them at $250,000 to $300,000 and still seeing a profit.”
And that is not a bad strategy for a lot, but not everyone is happy about it.
A number of Austin real estate professionals say it is unfair for the realtors to charge so much to sell a property.
“The real estate broker doesn’t have to be able to make a profit.
If you want to be in the business, you should be able [to make a small profit],” said Gaffey.
“If you don’t want to sell the house, you don.
You should be selling the property for as low a price as you can.”
In many cases that’s what happened to two young men named Jordan and Sam.
In December, they were vacationing in the Bahamas when Jordan, a graduate student, said he needed a house.
He and his girlfriend were staying in a guesthouse with friends.
“When we got there, the owner was not showing up, and I didn’t know what to do,” said Jordan.
They started looking around on the Internet, and they saw a listing for a $450,000 home in Austin.
The house was listed at $400,000 on Realtor.com.
But they needed to be at least a few hundred thousand dollars over the asking.
They were desperate to get their house.
Jordan called the realtor and arranged to pay a deposit of $150,000 upfront.
That meant they could sell their home and pocket the difference.
That would be their profit.
“I think we were very happy with it,” said Sam.
“For me, it was the right move.”
Jordan and Sam, now 19 and 20, both