AUSTIN (Home Builders Association of Greater Austin) – The Austin area’s new home market could be headed toward a recovery, experts said Wednesday at the 2010 Economic Housing Forecast.

“The resiliency of the job market and relatively stable home prices will translate to a more positive consumer confidence level locally,” said Eldon Rude, Austin director of Metrostudy, which tracks the new home market in Austin and 30 other markets across the country. “Consumer confidence is an important driver of home sales.”

Rude said builders in the Austin area cut new home production by approximately 19 percent in the last year, resulting in 6,490 new home starts in 2009.

“Starts have stabilized in recent quarters, builders have closed more homes than they have started for the last three years. This strategy has resulted in far fewer inventory issues in the Austin new home market compared to the more challenged markets across the United States,” he said.

Metrostudy anticipates that new home starts in the five-county Austin region will be maintained at 2009 levels because of the expected lack of job growth through at least the first half of 2010 and the continued capital constraints facing builders.

Experts believe the region is at or near bottom with respect to housing starts and starts will begin to increase toward the end of 2010 and into 2011.

The conference was sponsored by the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin and the Austin Board of Realtors.