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How Density Affects Rent and Housing Costs

Code Next, the rewrite of the city’s development code, was released today.  It aims to make the building code easier to understand and follow.  In conjunction with that, the Austin Business Journal is taking a look at how density affects housing prices around Austin.

In general, real estate developers and urbanists would like to see the code that makes it smoother to add multifamily and mixed-use developments in Austin where it makes sense, particularly along major corridors and in the center of the city.

The Austin Neighborhood Council, which is a group of about 100 neighborhood groups around town, oppose dense development, saying it will destroy neighborhood character.  There is a lot of evidence that the  drive for preservation of neighborhood character may be a huge factor in causing Austin’s economic segregation, which is currently the worst in the nation.

By adding housing to the urban core where most of the jobs in Austin are located, urbanists and real estate developers suggest that some of that housing unaffordability could be fixed.  

That hypothesis seems to be born out by studying renters.  Those residing in the top quarter of the most dense Census block groups, which are those with an average housing unit density of 1,238.6 housing units per square kilometer, pay 30 percent of their income for rent.  In the Austin area as a whole, renters pay 31 percent of their income on rent.  Those who live in the 25 percent of the least dense Census block groups, which has an average housing density of 319 units per square kilometer,  spend 33 percent of their income on rent.   

Homeowners, on the other hand, don’t seem to see the same advantages.  Those who own their home and live in the top quarter of densest Census block groups pay 21 percent of their income for their house payment.  Across the Austin area, that number is 20 percent.  Those who have a mortgage in the most dense area pay 23 percent of their income for their housing, which is equal to the regional average and those who don’t have a mortgage pay about 13 percent of their income towards housing, also equal to the region as a whole.  

Whether you want to make your home in a high density or low density area of Austin, Apartment Experts North can help you find an apartment that fits your budget, wants, and needs.  Give us a call today at 512-339-4411 to find your new home today!  

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