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Houston Single-Family Home Sales and Prices Climb in March as the Homebuyer Tax Credit Deadline Looms

Houston Single-Family Home Sales and Prices Climb in March as the Homebuyer Tax Credit Deadline Looms

The rapidly approaching April 30 federal homebuyer tax credit apparently inspired Houston-area consumers to house shop, as sales of single-family homes throughout the Houston market rose in March with the strongest sales volume continuing in the upper housing segments. Prices of single-family homes also continued their months-long appreciation.

Overall March sales of single-family homes across greater Houston climbed 10.8 percent compared to March 2009, according to the latest monthly data compiled by the Houston Association of Realtors® (HAR). All single-family home pricing segments except the under-$80,000 market experienced gains, with the sharpest increases in homes priced from $250,000 and above. Sales of all property types rose 14.5 percent in March on a year-over-year basis.

The average price of a single-family home appreciated for the sixth straight month, reaching $212,403, up 10.2 percent versus March 2009. That represents the highest pricing level for a March in Houston. At $154,250, the March single-family home median price-the figure at which half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less-rose 6.4 percent from one year earlier. That represents the 11th consecutive monthly increase in median price and is the highest dollar figure for a March in Houston.

Foreclosure property sales reported in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) fell by 14.1 percent in March compared to one year earlier. The median price of March foreclosure sales rose 4.2 percent to $87,500 on a year-over-year basis.

Sales of all property types in Houston for March totaled 5,758, up 14.5 percent compared to March 2009. Total dollar volume for properties sold during the month was $1.2 billion versus $938 million one year earlier, representing a 24.2 percent increase.

“Local mortgage lenders I have spoken with estimate that between 50 to 65 percent of their recent business is related to the first-time homebuyer tax credit,” said Margie Dorrance, HAR chair and principal at Keller Williams Realty Metropolitan. “Homebuyers are nearly out of time to take advantage of the credit since a contract must be in the title company by midnight on April 30, although closing can take place as late as June 30.”

March Monthly Market Comparison
March Monthly Market Comparison ChartThe month of March brought Houston’s overall housing market positive results when all listing categories are compared to March of 2009. Total property sales, total dollar volume and both median and average single-family home sales prices all increased on a year-over-year basis.

The number of available properties, or active listings, at the end of March rose 7.1 percent from March 2009 to 49,030. That represents 2,372 more active listings than one month earlier, in February 2010, and is widely thought to reflect increased activity stemming from the homebuyer tax credit.

Month-end pending sales for March-those listings expected to close within the next 30 days-totaled 4,242, up 14.3 percent from last year. The months inventory of single-family homes for March stretched slightly to 6.7 months compared to 6.1 months one year earlier, but remains better than the national months inventory of single-family homes of 8.6 months, reported by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).

Single-Family Homes UpdateMarch sales of all single-family homes in Houston totaled 4,832, up 10.8 percent from March 2009. The increase ended three consecutive monthly declines in sales. Broken out by segment, sales of single-family homes priced between $250,000 and $500,000 rose 30.6 percent in March while sales of luxury homes-those priced from $500,000 to the millions-soared 49.5 percent. Homes priced between $80,000 and $150,000 were up 6.5 percent while those in the $150,000 to $250,000 range rose 11.8 percent. By contrast, sales of homes in the below-$80,000 segment were off 8.4 percent.

Heightened sales activity in the higher end of the housing market drove pricing up again in March. At $154,250, the median sales price for single-family homes rose for the 11th consecutive month, up 6.4 percent from March 2009. The national single-family median price reported by NAR is $164,300, illustrating the continued higher value and lower cost of living that consumers enjoy in the Houston market. The average price of single-family homes in March was $212,403, an increase of 10.2 percent from one year earlier. That represents the sixth straight monthly jump in the average price. Both median and average pricing reached the highest levels ever recorded for a March in Houston.

HAR also breaks out the sales performance of existing single-family homes throughout the Houston market. In March 2010, existing home sales totaled 4,057, a 14.4 percent increase from March 2009. The median sales price rose 9.4 percent to $144,900 compared to last year. The average sales price of $198,271 increased 12.2 percent from its March 2009 level.

Townhouse/Condominium Update
The number of townhouses and condominiums that sold in March jumped 30.4 percent compared to one year earlier. In the greater Houston area, 463 units were sold last month versus 355 properties in March 2009.

The median price of a townhouse/condominium slid 8.9 percent year-over-year to $123,000. The average price was flat at $160,886 from March 2009 to March 2010.

Lease Property Update
Demand for single-family home rentals rose 15.3 percent in March compared to a year earlier. Year-over-year townhouse/condominium rentals increased 13.9 percent.

Houston Real Estate Milestones in March

  • Single-family home sales rose 10.8 percent;
  • Total property sales increased 14.5 percent;
  • The average price of a single-family home appreciated for a sixth straight month by 10.2 percent to $212,403 – the highest pricing level for a March in Houston;
  • The median price of a single-family home rose for the 11th consecutive month, by 6.4 percent, to $154,250 – the highest dollar figure for a March in Houston;
  • 6.7 months inventory of single-family homes compares favorably to the national average of 8.6 months;
  • Townhouse/condominium sales increased 30.4 percent;
  • Total dollar volume climbed 24.2 percent, reaching $1.2 billion.

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