Austin Economy

Why Austin is Still Among Top U.S. Markets for 'Ultra-Luxury' Homes

Gary Dolch|February 16, 2023
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Austin tends to show up on a lot of "top 10" lists. Now it's adding one more notch to its belt. Austin ranked No. 7 in the nation for sales of "ultra-luxury" homes, or houses priced at $10 million or more, according to a report by residential real estate brokerage Compass. Austin had five such sales last year, totaling $55.9 million, compared with four $10 million-plus sales the year before, a 25% increase. (Compass notes that its survey does not include off-market sales).

The highest-priced sale last year in which a Compass agent represented the seller was a home that sold for $7.75 million. Monica Fabbio, founder of the Fab Property Group, had the listing.

The highest-priced 2022 sale in which Compass agents represented the buyer was an $11.9 million sale. Gary and Michelle Dolch represented the buyer.

Fabbio said that cash buyers from out of state were the main drivers of the boom in early 2022. Many sold businesses or properties in other markets to invest in Austin real estate. But even high-dollar buyers had trouble finding the home of their choosing given an inventory shortage, Fabbio said.

"Some of the most high net-worth buyers were seemingly willing to pay almost anything for ultra-luxury new construction homes, waterfront homes or scenic and private oversized lots that can be ideal for compound build sites," Fabbio said.  "Despite offering exorbitant prices, the lack of inventory left some potential ultra-luxury buyers empty-handed."

Fabbio said buyers of ultra-luxury homes in Austin often come from California or New York, and are looking for waterfront or scenic properties with land and privacy.

"With our limited supply, these buyers find it prudent to claim their stake in a city projected to double in size by 2050,' Fabbio said. "Typically flush with cash from sales of luxury properties in higher priced markets and from recent net worth increases in the U.S., these luxury buyers have permanently transformed the Austin real estate landscape."

While a $6 million sale was noteworthy in 2019, Fabbio said, price ceilings continued to be shattered in 2021.

"The public was awed with the announcement of the highest sale known to date, a Lake Austin estate listed at $38.9 million," Fabbio said. "In the ongoing frenzy of early 2022, I had a buyer going after a $70 million listing on the private market... Now in 2023, I believe luxury sellers and buyers will have an opportunity to find their place in Austin as many sit on their hands contemplating their next moves.”

Other findings from the report:

  • Manhattan -- fueled by a robust first half of the year -- led all ultra-luxury markets in 2022 with a dollar volume of $6 billion across 343 sales.
  • Five of the top 20 markets by sales volume were in Florida. Miami Dade had $2.6 billion in sales and Palm Beach had $1.8 billion, while Broward County saw a 528% increase compared to 2019, as the sunshine state's appeal broadened, Compass said.
  • Telluride, Colo.; Palm Springs, Calif. and Broward County, Fla. saw triple-digit ultra-luxury sales volume increases in 2022 compared to 2019. In Telluride, sales volume increased 588.6 % compared to 2019, and total transactions were up 600% in the same period.


Article by Shonda Novak, Austin American-Statesman