Home sales maintain the aggressive pace of 2012 as the new year begins

Housing inventory in Houston now matches levels last seen 13 years ago, as January home sales maintained the aggressive pace established in 2012. January marked the 20th consecutive month of positive home sales, with average and median prices reaching the highest levels for a January in Houston.

According to the latest monthly data prepared by the Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR), single-family home sales achieved the highest monthly year-over-year percentage increase since last October, rising 28.3 percent compared to January 2012. Contracts closed on 3,899 homes, shrinking inventory to 3.6 months. That matches a level last recorded in December 1999.

All housing segments saw gains in January, with homes priced from $250,000 through the millions registering the greatest sales volume and accounting for the boost in pricing.

“The Houston real estate market gained even more momentum as the new year began,” said HAR Chairman Danny Frank with Prudential Anderson Properties. “We are maintaining a watchful eye on the local housing supply because a significant decline from current inventory levels could potentially have an adverse effect on sales and drive prices disproportionately higher. Market conditions right now are excellent for those considering selling their homes, especially as further growth in hiring continues to drive more potential buyers to the Houston area every day.”

The single-family home average price increased 3.4 percent year-over-year to $200,296, the highest level for a January in Houston. The median price—the figure at which half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less—jumped 7.2 percent to $150,000, also a record high for a January in Houston.

Foreclosure property sales reported in the HAR Multiple Listing Service (MLS) declined 11.9 percent compared to January 2012. Foreclosures currently make up 19.6 percent of all property sales, which is the highest level since February 2012. The median price of January foreclosures dipped 1.5 percent to $81,074.

January sales of all property types in Houston totaled 4,680, a 29.1 percent increase over the same month last year. Total dollar volume for properties sold in January leapt 33.6 percent to $908 million versus $680 million a year earlier.

January Monthly Market Comparison
January brought Houston’s overall real estate market positive results when all sales categories are compared to January 2012. On a year-over-year basis, total property sales, total dollar volume and average and median pricing all rose.

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Month-end pending sales for January totaled 3,591. That is up 13.5 percent from last year and signals the likelihood of further gains when February property sales data are totaled. Active listings, or the number of available properties, at the end of January declined 20.3 percent from January 2012 to 33,532.

Housing inventory in Houston retreated to 3.6 months in January, the lowest level since December 1999. Inventory first fell below a five-month supply in August 2012 and then dropped below a four-month supply last December. By contrast, the highest months inventory in recent history was 8.2 in June 1996. For perspective, the national inventory of single-family homes stands at 4.4 months, according to the latest report from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

Single-Family Homes Update
January sales of single-family homes in Houston totaled 3,899, up 28.3 percent from January 2012. That marks the 20th straight monthly increase.
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Broken out by housing segment, January sales performed as follows:
•    $1 – $79,999: increased 7.9 percent
•    $80,000 – $149,999: increased 22.1 percent
•    $150,000 – $249,999: increased 37.9 percent
•    $250,000 – $499,999: increased 41.2 percent
•    $500,000 – $1 million and above: increased 56.2 percent

The average price of a single-family home rose 3.4 percent from last year to $200,296, the highest level for a January in Houston. At $150,000, the median sales price for single-family homes also achieved a record high for a January in Houston, up 7.2 percent year-over-year.

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HAR also breaks out the sales performance of existing single-family homes throughout the Houston market. In January 2013, existing home sales totaled 3,382, a 32.6 percent jump from the same month last year. The average sales price rose 2.9 percent year-over-year to $184,755. The median sales price climbed 9.6 percent to $137,000.

Townhouse/Condominium Update
January sales of townhouses and condominiums increased 20.3 percent from one year earlier. A total of 320 units sold last month versus 266 properties in January 2012. The average price leapt 23.5 percent to $172,313 while the median price shot up 33.5 percent to $134,800. Months inventory dove 40.8 percent year-over-year to 4.0 months compared to 6.8 months in January 2012.

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Lease Property Update
Demand within Houston’s lease property market leveled off in January. Rentals of single-family homes edged up a fractional 0.7 percent compared to January 2012, while year-over-year townhouse/condominium rentals were flat. The average rent for single-family lease homes was $1,548 while it was $1,393 for townhouses/condominiums – representing increases of 7.4 percent and 9.3 percent respectively.

Houston Real Estate Milestones in January

  • Single-family home sales increased 28.3 percent year-over-year, accounting for the market’s 20th consecutive monthly increase;
  • Total dollar volume jumped 33.6 percent, increasing from $680 million to $908 million on a year-over-year basis;
  • At $200,296, the single-family home average price reached the highest level for a January in Houston;
  • At $150,000, the single-family home median price also reached an historic high for a January in Houston;
  • 3.6 months inventory of single-family homes is the lowest level since December 1999 and is lower than the national average of 4.4 months;
  • Sales of townhouses/condominiums rose 20.3 percent year-over-year.

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