Real Estate 2012
Better than expected

Happy days are here again? Houston home sales hit highest point in four years

Happy days are here again? Houston home sales hit highest point in four years

Houston home sales skyrocketed in May, reaching the highest point in four years, the Houston Association of Realtors reported Tuesday. With a whopping 6,185 single-family homes sold in May, the monthly sales total was up 24 percent over May of 2011.

Last month’s impressive sales were the highest since June 2008 when  6,269 sales were recorded in the Houston area.

“Some local housing analysts had predicted that the housing market would experience significant improvement this spring and summer, but these numbers far exceed expectations,” said Evert Crawford, director of the Institute for Regional Forecasting at the University of Houston’s Hobby Center for Public Policy.

 “Some local housing analysts had predicted that the housing market would experience significant improvement this spring and summer, but these numbers far exceed expectations,” said Evert Crawford. 

Crawford said Houston home prices, computed on a per-square-foot basis, were up 5 percent in May, compared to a year earlier, according to preliminary analysis.

The median price of a single-family home in Houston was $168,000,  up 7 percent from the $158,800 in May of 2011, the Realtors association said. The median price is the midpoint, indicating half the homes sold for more and half for less.

Low interest rates, with 30-year mortgages around 4 percent, and a strong local economy spurred the huge gain. Houston, enjoying a surge from the energy industry, has been among the national leaders for job growth for some time. Exxon Mobil recently announced that it is relocating 2,000 employees to Houston from Virginia.

“Both buyers and sellers are reaping the benefits of an extremely healthy and robust real estate climate in Houston, driven largely by continued job gains that have been responsible for drawing many new consumers to this market,” said Wayne Stroman, HAR chairman and CEO of Stroman Realty. “Buyers are able to take advantage of the lowest interest rates in history as they shop for homes, and we’re also hearing accounts of sellers receiving the asking price for their homes, and in some cases getting even more.”

The upper end of the Houston housing market reported exceedingly strong sales. John Daughterty Realtors, a leader in selling homes to the city’s affluent, has reported record-setting sales for the company this spring. The sales of homes priced at $500,000 and up increased a phenomenal 42.3 percent over May of last year, the Realtors association reported.

With the upper-end market on the move, the home price statistics jumped in May. The average price of a Houston house sold in May was $237,083 – the highest average home sales price ever recorded. 

The inventory of homes for sale has been shrinking. At the end of May, inventory of homes for sale totaled 42,280 properties, a 18.1 percent from May 2011.  The tighter inventory pushes prices upward.

The strength of the housing market was not confined to single-family homes. The sales of condo and townhome units were up 31 percent over May of last year.  And for renters, the leasing of single-family homes was up 15 percent last month.