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A Buying Mood

Home sales hit a five-year high as Houston's real estate miracle becomes national news

August was the best month for Houston home sales in five years as low mortgage rates and a strong local economy combined to ignite the real estate market.

The inventory of homes for sale dwindled to its lowest level in 10 years as consumers picked off good deals financed with super-low mortgage rates, according to the Houston Association of Realtors, which has been keeping market statistics for decades.

 "Houston is unique and it’s now national news that Houston is doing well.” 

The Realtors association reported 6,600 single-family homes were sold in August, the highest monthly sales total since 7,058 homes were sold in August 2007. Houston’s recovery has been unwavering with 15 consecutive months of sales gains.

“It’s a groundswell of momentum that’s been building for some time,” said Robin Mueck, president and CEO of Heritage Texas Properties.

Pent-up demand to buy homes has been uncoiling as consumers have gained confidence in the Houston economy as national media, including the Wall Street Journal and Forbes have noted Houston’s surge, Mueck said. Houston economy has been one of the leaders in creating new jobs and energy companies are expanding here, creating even more demand.

Houston home buyers are believers in the rebound now, although the dark blights on the national economy — high national unemployment, weak stock market and the downgrade of the credit rating of the United States due to its debt — prevented them from moving ahead previously.

“You’ve had people riding the fence for a real long time. Even with the low mortgage rates, they didn’t buy a home because of the national picture,” Mueck said. “People in Houston, Texas now recognize where we are going.

"Houston is unique and it’s now national news that Houston is doing well.”

 The median price of a single-family home sold in August was $165,000, a 3.8 percent increase over August of last year. 

The 6,600 homes sold in August represented a 20-percent gain over the 5,500 sold in August of last year, the Realtors association said.

The inventory of homes for sale dipped to 40,504 listings, down 17 percent from the 48,752 homes listed for sale last August. At the current sales pace, it would take 4.9 months to sell off the existing inventory of homes for sale — the lowest inventory since April of 2002.

The median price of a single-family home sold in August was $165,000, a 3.8 percent increase over August of last year.

Home sales trend downward in the fall and the market slows significantly at the end of the year. Pending sales recorded already with the Realtor association indicate that September and possibly October will continue to be healthy, although not on a par with the August surge.

“August rounds out an extremely prosperous summer for the Houston real estate market,” said Wayne Stroman, HAR chairman and CEO of Stroman Realty.

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