Upon learning of Apple’s plans to build a new, 133-acre campus near its current Austin headquarters, the first questions to spring to mind are, overwhelmingly: 1) what will its impact be on transportation and sprawl, and 2) what will it do to housing prices?
Early intel on the latter seems to indicate: nothing—and then, possibly, a lot. “Until Apple breaks ground on its new Austin campus, buyers and renters will unlikely see any significant changes in prices and inventory,” wrote Trulia senior economist Cheryl Young in an email to Curbed Austin Thursday. SInce one of the reasons Apple chose Austin for its new campus—in addition to a deep talent pool—is that the city’s housing costs are substantially lower than those of the company’s Silicon Valley strongholds.
The new campus will be 12 miles from downtown Austin but is included in statistics for the sprawling metro area as a whole, which had an estimated 2018 home purchase price of $302,100 and rental median of $1,685/month. Both have increased substantially in the past five years, with home prices increasing almost 50 percent and rent around 13 percent. Inventory increased 28.7 percent over that period, but the affordability of starter homes is a persistent problem; in the last quarter of 2018, it’s estimated that it costs a median of 50 percent of household income to buy one.
The latter is a number that could go down, even if home prices stay steady, as the tech industry tends to pay higher salaries than others. If that proves to be the case with Apple, the changing variable will be how much home buyers and renters are paid, not the cost of housing.
In the meantime, Young expects a definite uptick of search interest for homes in the area, which has already been seen in Long Island City and Washington, D.C., after Amazon announced it was locating its (two?) second headquarters in those cities. “We do anticipate an immediate interest in the Austin housing market based on search,” she said, “as well as an increase in using the campus as a selling point in listing descriptions—even if the home isn’t actually near the campus.”