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Real Estate Controversy

A game of real estate chicken: Homeowners hold back putting houses for sale, panicking buyers

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Buyers have to move quickly to get the house they want, or it could be snapped up by another buyer. GrandUAViews.com
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Houston home sales reached a rolling boil in February, as sales rose 15.5 percent over February of last year.

The inventory of homes for sale is exceptionally tight — the lowest it’s been since 1999. Buyers have to move quickly to get the house they want, or it could be snapped up by another buyer.

“Buyers are panicking again. We are seeing bidding wars develop in the hot areas. We’re seeing the for-sale-by-owner sales come back,” said housing analyst Evert Crawford of Crawford Realty Advisors.

 Homeowners know prices are going up and they are waiting before putting their houses on the market, Crawford says. 

Sellers are waiting for prices to rise more before putting their house on the market, Crawford says. The Houston area has a 3.6 month inventory of homes for sale, the Houston Association of Realtors reports.

Homeowners know prices are going up and they are waiting before putting their houses on the market, Crawford says. When prices have gone up significantly, the inventory of homes for sale will grow again, he says. “Sellers are saying: ‘Not yet.' "

The median price of a Houston area home sold in February was $161,700, up 8 percent from the median of $149,900 in February of last year, the Houston Association of Realtors reports. The local median home price — the figure at which half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less — was a record high for a February.

Conflicting Stats?

Despite the increasing home prices, Houston is still one of the most affordable places to buy a home, according to a new study released by ZipRealty. Among the top 30 metropolitan areas in the nation, Houston ranked No. 2 for affordability. Dallas was No. 1, in the ZipRealty study, which compared household income and home prices.

Sales of Houston townhouses and condominiums were very strong in last month, rising 36 percent from one year earlier. A total of 425 units sold in February, compared to the 313 properties sold in February 2012.

 Houston realty has been this hot before, but it’s been awhile. 

The Houston housing market turned the corner almost two years ago, following a downward slide that took hold in 2008. Houston’s realty did not fall as far as some cities. Houston’s strong job growth, with more than 100,000 new jobs added in the last year, demonstrates one of the best economies in the nation and job growth helps the housing market. Single-family homes sales have increased in Houston for 21 consecutive months. 

Houston realty has been this hot before, but it’s been awhile.

“The recent flurry of home buying and reduced inventory may seem unusual, but is exactly what the Houston market experienced back in the late 1990s,” said HAR Chairman Danny Frank with Prudential Anderson Properties. “The difference is that now we are seeing multiple offers and bidding wars.”  

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