February Brings Robust Sales Activity to Upper Segments of the Houston Real Estate Market

Sales of homes from $250K and above give pricing another boost

HOUSTON — (March 16, 2010) — The Houston real estate market completed the second month of 2010 showing continued vitality in home prices, thanks to robust sales activity in the upper housing segments.

Overall February sales of single-family homes across the greater Houston area slid 5.8 percent compared to February 2009, according to the latest monthly data compiled by the Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR). When broken out by segment, however, sales of single-family homes priced from $250,000 and above recorded double-digit gains. Sales of all property types declined 7.4 percent in February on a year-over-year basis.

The average price of a single-family home appreciated for the fifth straight month, reaching $203,271, up 12.3 percent versus February 2009. At $147,000, the February single-family home median price—the figure at which half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less—rose 6.5 percent from one year earlier. That represents the tenth consecutive monthly increase in median price.

Foreclosure property sales reported in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) fell by 18.7 percent in February compared to one year earlier. The median price of February foreclosure sales rose 7.5 percent to $86,000 on a year-over-year basis.

Sales of all property types in Houston for February totaled 3,843, down 4.6 percent compared to February 2009. Total dollar volume for properties sold during the month was $747 million versus $711 million one year earlier, representing a 5.1 percent increase.

“We are encouraged by steady homebuying activity in the higher-end single-family segment, which has strengthened Houston’s already enviable real estate pricing,” said Margie Dorrance, HAR chair and principal at Keller Williams Realty Metropolitan. “We expect to see consumer interest extend to the other segments as the spring homebuying season heats up.”

February Monthly Market Comparison
The month of February brought Houston’s overall housing market mixed results when all listing categories are compared to February of 2009. Total property sales declined while total dollar volume and both median and average single-family home sales prices rose on a year-over-year basis.

The number of available properties, or active listings, at the end of February rose 4.3 percent from February 2009 to 46,658. That represents 1,448 more active listings than one month earlier, in January 2010, and may reflect increased activity stemming from the federal homebuyer tax credit that expires on April 30.

February’s month-end pending sales—those listings expected to close within the next 30 days—totaled 3,168, down 1.8 percent from last year. The months inventory of single-family homes for February grew to 6.3 months compared to 5.9 months one year earlier, but remains better than the national months inventory of single-family homes of 7.8 months, reported by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

Total property sales 4,030 3,843 -4.6%
Total dollar volume $710,696,861 $747,032,015 5.1%
Total active listings 44,747 46,658 4.3%
Total pending sales 3,227 3,168 -1.8%
Single-family home sales 3,450 3,251 -5.8%
Average single-family sales price $180,966 $203,271 12.3%
Median single-family sales price $138,000 $147,000 6.5%
Months inventory* 5.9 6.3 7.5%

* Months inventory estimates the number of months it will take to deplete current active inventory based on the prior 12 months sales activity. This figure is representative of the single-family homes market.

Single-Family Homes Update

February sales of all single-family homes in Houston totaled 3,251, down 5.8 percent from February 2009. This is the Houston market’s third consecutive monthly decline in sales. However, broken out by segment, sales of single-family homes priced between $250,000 and $500,000 rose 15.8 percent in February while sales of luxury homes—those priced from $500,000 to the millions—climbed 14.9 percent. By contrast, sales of homes in the below-$80,000 segment fell 27.5 percent and those priced between $80,000 and $150,000 were unchanged.

Heightened sales activity in the higher end of the housing market drove pricing up in February. At $147,000, the median sales price for single-family homes rose for the tenth consecutive month, up 6.5 percent from February 2009. The national single-family median price reported by NAR is $163,600, 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 February was $203,271, an increase of 12.3 percent from one year earlier. That represents the fifth straight monthly jump in the average price.

HAR also breaks out the sales performance of existing single-family homes throughout the Houston market. In February 2010, existing home sales totaled 2,681, a 5.1 percent drop from February 2009. The median sales price rose 7.5 percent to $136,000 compared to last year. The average sales price of $189,998 increased 15.7 percent from its February 2009 level.

Townhouse/Condominium Update

The number of townhouses and condominiums that sold in February rose 8.9 percent compared to one year earlier. In the greater Houston area, 330 units were sold last month versus 303 properties in February 2009.

The median price of a townhouse/condominium edged up 2.5 percent year-over-year to $128,000. The average price was up 3.9 percent to $158,648 from February 2009 to February 2010.

Lease Property Update

Demand for single-family home rentals rose 9.9 percent in February compared to a year earlier. Year-over-year townhouse/condominium rentals shot up 20.1 percent.

Houston Real Estate Milestones in February

•The average price of a single-family home appreciated for a fifth straight month, by 12.3 percent, to $203,271;

•The median price of a single-family home rose for the tenth consecutive month, by 6.5 percent, to $147,000;

•6.3 months inventory of single-family homes compares favorably to the national average of 7.8 months;

•Townhouse/condominium sales rose 8.9 percent;

•Total dollar volume grew 5.1 percent, reaching $747 million.

The computerized Multiple Listing Service of the Houston Association of Realtors® includes residential properties and new homes listed by 25,000 Realtors® throughout Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties, as well as parts of Brazoria, Galveston, Waller and Wharton counties. Residential home sales statistics as well as listing information for more than 50,000 properties may be found on the Internet at http://www.har.com.

The information published and disseminated to the HAR Multiple Listing Services is communicated verbatim, without change by Multiple Listing Services, as filed by MLS participants.

The MLS does not verify the information provided and disclaims any responsibility for its accuracy. All data is preliminary and subject to change. Monthly sales figures reported since November 1998 includes a statistical estimation to account for late entries. Twelve-month totals may vary from actual end-of-year figures. (Single-family detached homes were broken out separately in monthly figures beginning February 1988.)

Founded in 1918, the Houston Association of Realtors® (HAR) is a 25,000-member organization of real estate professionals engaged in every aspect of the industry, including residential and commercial sales and leasing, appraisal, property management and counseling. It is the largest local association/board of Realtors® in the United States as well as the largest individual membership trade association in Houston.