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Record Home Sales: Best March Ever in Houston Real Estate History

HOUSTON – March was the strongest March ever for home sales in Houston’s real estate history, according to the Houston Association of Realtors.

The 7,013 single-family home sales recorded in March were up 11.7 percent from the 6,278 homes sold in March 2017, the Realtors Association said.

Amy Bernstein

Amy Bernstein

“February and March were two incredibly busy months,” said Houston residential broker Amy Bernstein of Bernstein Realty. “You are seeing multiple offers and a lot of areas are seeing rising home prices.”

The Memorial area, inside the Loop and The Heights are very hot markets in 2017, Bernstein said. And the infill market for home builder lots – with 1950s-era homes being torn down to provide lots for new construction – is also very strong, she said.

The single-family home median price (the figure at which half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less) climbed 5.8 percent to $227,530. That marks the highest median price ever for a March. The average price rose 4.6 percent to $284,279, which also represents a March high.

“Houston home sales blossomed in March, but we also saw tremendous activity in the rental market,” said HAR Chair Cindy Hamann with Heritage Texas Properties.

Cindy Hamann, chair of Houston Association of Realtors

Cindy Hamann, chair of Houston Association of Realtors

Even though rents declined, the pace of leasing was brisk in March, with strong consumer demand among both single-family and townhome/condominium properties. Single-family home leases surged 36.6 percent while townhome/condominium leases leapt 37.8 percent. The average rent for single-family homes declined 4.9 percent to $1,647, while the average rent for townhomes/condominiums dropped 5.6 percent to $1,487.

The inventory of homes for sale remains exceptionally tight. Houston is definitely a sellers market this spring.

Single-family homes inventory grew slightly from a 3.5-months supply to 3.8 months. For perspective, housing inventory across the U.S. also currently stands at a 3.8-months supply, according to the latest report from the National Association of Realtors.

A balanced market – with sellers and buyers in equilibrium – is when there is a 6-months supply of homes on the market. When the market was slow in 2011, inventory approached an 8-months supply.

The market appears to be heading into a very strong Spring buying season. At the end of March pending sales for single-family homes totaled 8,311, an increase of 16.7 percent compared to last year, HAR said.

The Federal Reserve has been indicating that several rate hikes may be imposed in 2017, even though inflation appears not to be much of a threat to the economy.

Although mortgage rates are still low – with last week’s national average 30-year rate at 4.1 percent, according to Freddie Mac – the specter of rising rates is motivating people to buy, Bernstein said.

Also the Houston residential market has been lifted with strengthening of corporate relocation – meaning professionals are relocating to Houston.

“Our relocation activity is very strong. A lot of companies are bringing people to Houston,” Bernstein said. Relocation for medical and legal professionals appears to be very strong in Houston, she said.

April 13, 2017 Realty News Report Copyright 2017

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