Douglas Elliman opens downtown Austin office amid resi slump

As Austin’s residential market and the residential brokerage business nationwide face choppy waters, Douglas Elliman is expanding its office footprint in the Texas capital. 

The brokerage opened new digs at 1717 West 6th Street, a 184,000-square-foot building called Hartland Plaza. The office is relatively small at 6,415 square feet, and includes flex spaces for agents to hold meetings. CIM Group sold Hartland Plaza to Generational Commercial Properties and Aquila Commercial in March. 

Photos of the space show a ground-floor entrance with a geometric marble front desk. Inside, there is a phone booth for private calls and a semi-open area with desks in a cubicle arrangement. The building is west of the Central Business District near Clarksville, where the city’s tony residential neighborhoods start to take form. 

Melissa Webb, the firm’s lead sales manager for Austin and San Antonio, will work out of the new space.

The move “reflects our confidence in the city’s robust real estate market,” Douglas Elliman president and CEO Scott Durkin said. The firm’s Texas president, Catherine Lee, called Austin’s market “booming.” 

While Austin’s average sale price remains well above historical levels — the median price is 44 percent higher than it was five years ago — recent months have seen a marked slowdown in sales volume and price. In October, the median home price in the Austin-Round Rock area fell 7.5 percent to $435,000, according to the Austin Board of Realtors. Homes spent 68 days on the market on average, up 21 days from October 2022. 

“Buyers have more negotiating power than at virtually any point since March 2020,” said Clare Losey, a housing economist for the Austin Board of Realtors. 

At the same time, several prominent brokerages, including Douglass Elliman, are facing potentially costly litigation over commission practices following a landmark ruling in the Sitzer/Burnett trial last month. 

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