A new report by Opendoor shows how hot housing is in Leander

A new report by Opendoor shows how hot housing is in Leander

  • Michelle Pitcher – Staff Writer, Austin Business Journal
  • 01/19/22

Austin’s suburbs have attracted significant national attention in recent years. New developments like Samsung’s forthcoming Taylor plant will draw eyes further north. This piqued interest, it seems, has resulted in one Williamson County city ranking among the hottest neighborhoods in the country for home sales.

One Leander ZIP code ranked the second “hottest” neighborhood in the U.S. in a new report by Opendoor Labs Inc. The study looked at places where Opendoor brokerages operate, which includes 44 major metro areas.

 

The 78641 ZIP — which encompasses the western part of the city, including much of the Balcones Canyonlands — had the second highest number of homes enter into contract within 90 days of going on the market in 2021, according to Opendoor’s data.

 

This Leander ZIP code was the second "hottest" in 2021, according to Opendoor.  -   GOOGLE MAPS

Leander has been in the growth fast lane for a few years now. It was the fastest-growing large city in the U.S. between 2018 and 2019, with its population surging 12% in a single year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Residential development has been constant, although Leander City Council has bristled against some mixed-use development in recent years. In 2020, Council denied a $2 billion investment for a mixed-use development — which would have been similar to The Domain in Austin — over the proposed multifamily component.

 

 
 

Other big commercial plans are progressing. The 115-acre Northline development is expected to bring thousands of apartments, 1.9 million square feet of office space and much more to the city. Leander Springs, which will feature a manmade lagoon, and a new 400,000-square-foot headquarters for Cangshan Cutlery are also in the works.

A rendering of the massive lagoon planned for Leander Springs.

 

A rendering of the massive lagoon planned for Leander Springs.

LEANDER SPRINGS LLC

Texas was the most-represented state on Opendoor's list. The 77494 Katy neighborhood near Houston ranked No. 3, 78130 in New Braunfels came in at No. 4, and 75126 — in Forney, east of Dallas — ranked No. 7. A neighborhood in Clarksville, Tennessee, took the top spot.

All 10 of the hottest neighborhoods were in the southern half of the U.S.

 

Chris Westrom, Austin general manager at Opendoor, said climate likely played a big role in where people are choosing to live. The Austin area also offers a high number of job opportunities — in 2021, a record number of jobs were announced for the metro, according to data from the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. “We think a large part of what's driving so many people to Leander is the proximity to some of the tech campuses, and it is really convenient if you're working in that industry,” Westrom said. 

 

Gene Arant, a Realtor and head of the Gene Arant Team with Keller Williams, frequently works in Leander. He said proximity to major roads and school quality are other big draws for potential buyers. Leander ISD, which serves more than 40,000 students, has an almost 99% four-year graduation rate, according to the Texas Tribune.  

 

Arant said the profile of a Leander buyer varies, from first-time homebuyers looking for something under the half-million price point, to families looking for good schools, to tech buyers looking to be close to work.

 

Another powerful force driving home sales in Leander is a persistent lack of supply, a problem that permeates the entire metro. In November, the most recent month with available data, the Austin metro had only 0.8 months of housing inventory, according to the Austin Board of Realtors. Williamson County had 0.7 months. Both pale in comparison to a healthy market’s rate of six months.

 

Still, 214 homes sold in Leander in December, according to Redfin. That was up slightly from a year prior. Homeownership in Leander is much more prevalent than it is in Austin, which is a majority-renter city. In Leander, about 78% of homes are occupied by their owner, according to Census data.

 

Homes in Leander tend to be on the newer side, Westrom said. These homes are attractive to young professionals and families — people looking for homes that are easy to maintain and unlikely to require huge renovation costs.

“A lot of people are drawn to that area because of the construction,” Arant said. “That's where there are actually sticks going up, and they can find houses that are being built. There are so many new communities being built out there.”

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