Austin Residential Growth Over Fifty Years (1965 through 2014)

Feb 3, 2015 - 10:40 am

This information shows the number of residential units authorized to be built by the building permits issued by the City of Austin. The way the information has been recorded changes with data sources and is not as uniform as one might wish, but it serves to provide a broad overview of development trends over the last half-century. The different data sources are listed below –

  1. Data from 1965 through 1986 was retrieved from ‘Basic Data’, a publication of the Planning and Growth Management Department, City of Austin, published in 1987.
  2. Data from 1987 through 1996 was retrieved from  ‘Growth Watch – Monitoring Austin’s Growth and Redevelopment, Fourth Quarter 1996’, a publication of the Department of Planning, Environmental and Conservation Services, City of Austin, published in January 1997.
  3. Data from 1997 through 2006 was retrieved from the Permitting, Inspection, Enforcement, and Review (PIER) database and City of Austin GIS datasets.
  4. Data from 2007 through 2014 was retrieved from the Application, Management and Data Automation (AMANDA) database, which is managed by the Planning and Development Review Department, City of Austin. Only Work Descriptions of New and Shell were taken into consideration. Only Sub descriptions of C-101 Single Family Houses, C-103 Two Family Buildings, C-104 Three and Four Family Buildings, C-105 Five or More Family Buildings, C-106 Mixed Use, R-101 Single Family Houses, R-102 Secondary Apartments, R-103 Two Family Bldgs were taken into consideration.

Here is a look at the trends that can be seen over 50 years of Austin’s residential development. 

Unit Totals (1965 through 2014) : 

 

This graphic depicts the total number of residential units that were permitted by the City of Austin per year over the last 50 years. The data span the period from 1965 through 2014. Approximately 7,000 units were added per year, although as the graph shows, the distribution follows the economic booms and busts of the time period. The peak of unit supply was in 1983 when 16,817 units were issued permits. One can clearly see the effect of the Great Recession in the late 2000’s as well as the Savings and Loan Crisis in the late 1980s on the development industry.

Single Family Units Permitted (1965 through 2014) : 

This graphic depicts the number of single family residential units that were issued permits by the City of Austin per year over the last 50 years. The data span the period from 1965 through 2014 Approximately 2,300 single family residential units were permitted per year. Even though the addition of new units was subject to changes in the economy, single family residential development continued to be the significant portion of the supply of units, even when economic conditions deteriorated. Even at the depths of the Great Recession and the S&L crisis, the number of permits issued for new single family units did not dip below 750. 

Multifamily Units Permitted (1965 through 2014) :

This graphic depicts the number of multifamily residential units that were issued building permits by the City of Austin per year over the last 50 years. The data span the period from 1965 through 2014. Approximately 3,400 units were issued permits every year. Multifamily residential development has been more prone to the vagaries of the economic cycle than single family development, as can be seen from the graph, going from a high of 13,007 units permitted in 1983 to a low of 8 units in 1989. 

Duplex Units Permitted (1965 through 2014) :

 

This graphic depicts the number of duplex residential units that were issued building permits by the City of Austin per year over the last 50 years. The data span the period from 1965 through 2014. The average number of duplex units permitted per year has been around 330, though as can be seen from the graph, this residential type formed a larger share of the unit supply in the first twenty years, from 1965 through 1985, peaking at more than 1,200 units in 1981. Very few units were permitted from 1986 through 2001. Over the last decade, the share has increased but not significantly.

Unit Type : 

This graphic depicts the number of residential units permitted by the City of Austin per year over the last 50 years, categorized by unit type. The data span the period from 1965 through 2014. As can be seen from the data, multifamily permits were categorized as all structures with more than three units from 1965 through 1996. ‘Other Res’ and ‘Mobile Homes’ were discontinued as categories in 2006, while ‘Secondary Apartments’ and ‘Mixed Use’ were introduced as new categories in 2007. So comparing the data over the time period is not a precise effort. However some trends still stand out – 

1. Multifamily residential development, as seen from the average and categorized as all development with more than 5 units per structure forms the bulk of supply, at almost 50%. This does not include the triplexes / fourplexes and mixed use structures from the later years. 

2. Single family residential development comes in second, averaging 35% over the years. Though it comes in second, it is a steadier contributor to the overall unit supply than multifamily even through some historically rough patches for development overall. 

3. Duplexes were more popular in the first 20 years; their share of the supply almost disappears from 1987 through 1999 and then forms a small share of the overall supply. 

 
Disclaimer: 
There is no guarantee that the all the building permits were built out and all the units were constructed. It is assumed that the each development was built out, which might not be the case for all the permits. It is also assumed that the information reported by the developers and / or retrieved from the different data sources is accurate and complete, although no warranty is made by the City of Austin regarding specific accuracy and completeness.
 

 

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