Community Impact Austin shares, "Clare Losey joined the Austin Board of Realtors as its housing economist in March. She graduated from Texas A&M University with a PhD in August 2021 and previously worked at the Texas Real Estate Research Center. This interview has been edited for clarity and consistency.
What made you choose Austin?
I attended [The University of Texas] for undergrad and just really fell in love with Austin, and I love just the outdoorsy aspect of it. I think folks here tend to strike a happy medium; they tend to find jobs that they’re at least reasonably passionate about, but yet they have hobbies on the side that they really enjoy.
What do you do as a housing economist for the ABoR?
Much of what I do is focus just on digesting what’s happening both in the overall economy and then the housing market itself. And within the housing market, it’s very much segmented in the sense of looking at different price levels; looking at, for instance, affordability; looking at single-family homes versus single-family rentals; looking at single-family homes versus condos, townhomes, etc.
The point of doing that is then to try to impart that information, not only to Realtors and agents, but also just households across the Austin area.
What would you tell somebody who does not know a lot about housing?
First and foremost, just that housing plays such a vital role, both in individual households’ lives and just in the broader economy. So on the subject of the former, of course, everyone needs a place to live, needs an affordable place to live in that definition. That component of affordability differs across income levels, differs according to households’ tastes and preferences.
But there’s also the component that housing is a major contributor to the broader economy and in the sense too that we want to ensure that our housing supply is sufficient for our population. When I use the word sufficient, I’m not only speaking to the supply itself, the number of housing units currently on the ground and continuing new construction—both single family and multifamily—but also sufficient in the sense that it is affordable across a variety of income and price levels. On the subject of affordability, that rings especially important over the long term in the sense that we want to continue to attract a diverse array of households into the Austin area. We certainly don’t want to become a city in which homes are only affordable to those with higher incomes.
How would you describe the market?
I’d say right now, the market is still adjusting to broader macroeconomic conditions and significantly higher mortgage rates, ... the impasse over the debt ceiling that has since been resolved, ... and overall inflation, and just expectations for the Federal Reserve to continue tightening monetary policy, i.e., raising the costs of borrowing, including potentially mortgage rates.
So overall, I would just say that the Austin housing market is continuing to adjust to those broader conditions in the overall economy and trying to find that equilibrium.
Anything else people should know?
It can be a more daunting time to step into the housing market. I’m speaking here now of first-time buyers. ... But research has consistently shown that homeownership is the primary mechanism by which households in the U.S. build wealth. So I would encourage folks [who can afford to buy a home] to think about just the wealth-building aspects of homeownership, especially for lower-income households."
Source: Community Impact Austin
Written by: Darcy Sprague
Published: August 18, 2023Posted by Grossman & Jones Group on