In the middle Kyle sits in sweet spot of home affordability

Amid Austin’s real estate boom, Kyle is currently sitting in a relative “sweet spot” when it comes to home prices, according to city officials.

But as property values continue to increase, and more people move to the area, Kyle City Manager Scott Sellers said the city wants to keep its finger on the pulse of home costs.

Travis Mitchell, Kyle mayor, said during his July 24 State of the City speech that the city is in a sweet spot when it comes to affordability. According to Mitchell, roughly 73 percent of Kyle residents own their home, which surpasses the national average.

“Affordable home ownership is a key component in the American dream,” Mitchell said. “In Kyle, that dream is alive and well.”

J.D. Sanford, an area real estate broker, said homes in Kyle typically average less than $250,000, which is a price range that doesn’t exist in growing cities such as Austin.

However, Sanford said Kyle, as well as Buda, are growing in terms of median sale prices per year. Sanford said Kyle has been growing at a faster pace than Buda has, due to the amount of large tracts of land available for development.

Sanford said Buda is starting to see an affordability problem, where homes under $200,000 are hard to come by.

“Kyle doesn’t have that problem and can build a little more rapidly than Buda has and will for the foreseeable future,” Sanford said. “That will help keep prices down a little.”

Sellers said Kyle officials are working with developers to keep costs “as low as possible,” in hopes of capturing spill-over from those who seek to leave Austin.

But the asset of affordability does lead to some issues. Mitchell said one problem Kyle has experienced in recent years extends to the number of available homes on the market. Where it once took the city six months to exhaust its supply of vacant homes, Mitchell said the amount of time has dwindled down to six weeks. During one instance, it only took 29 days before Kyle had no more homes for sale.

The strain placed on infrastructure due to new developments is also a challenge cities face, Mitchell said. Kyle began to look to developers to fund infrastructure improvements, which could lessen the amount of debt the city incurs to match the growth.

Sellers said the city is starting to refocus on density to address future cost issues. In addition, Kyle is also aiming for more housing options as well. Sellers said the city could give the go-ahead for a second workforce housing apartment complex within the next few months.

“Density used to be a dirty word. What we’re realizing is that if you have a dense, but nice development, that keeps things affordable because it’s less cost,” Sellers said.

Inevitably, Kyle could very well become a victim of the rising housing market. Sellers said while the city is in a sweet spot today, it could change over time.

Sanford said rising prices are a fact of time and growth, and that Buda and Kyle home prices will continue to rise, especially as both cities look to attract employers to the area.

However, Sanford said homes reaching values of those of Austin, Dallas and other booming cities is still a “ways off.”

Large developments coming into the city, such as the Anthem subdivision and Blanco River Ranch, could help keep prices affordable.

There’s also the “natural evolution” of Kyle no longer operating as a commuter city.

“There will be a natural evolution over time where we will be less of a commuter city, and Lockhart is a true commuter area.”

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