HOUSTON – (Realty News Report) – Houston home sales continued to sprint out of the opening gate in 2018 with a record 5,260 single-family houses sold in February, the Houston Association of Realtors reported.
It was the strongest February on record for Houston Realtors and the first time February sales have ever broken the 5,000-mark.
Home sales were also strong in January. And HAR reports pending sales for March are up significantly as the Spring selling season approaches.
“This is the active season right now,” said Houston Realtor Amy Bernstein of Bernstein Realty. “I really think buyers are very bullish about the market.”
Rising interest rates seem to be injecting a urgency into the market as buyers hear news of rising interest rates and see mortgage rates rising, Bernstein said. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.46 percent last week, up from 4.21 percent a year ago, according to Freddie Mac.
Bernstein said the Meyerland neighborhood of southwest Houston, which was devastated by hurricane flooding last year, is seeing a lot of activity, new construction and major remodeling activity that involves elevating the houses, often much more than six feet off the ground.
“Meyerland is making a comeback,” Bernstein said. Bellaire’s Southdale area is hot, Bernstein said, and some second generation homes there (built in the 1990s or early 2000s) are being elevated.
Across the city, the inventory of homes is tight – only a 3.2-months supply, HAR reports. A 6-months inventory is considered a balanced market. A total of 33,939 properties were listed for sale in February 2018, down 2.2 percent from the 34,707 properties in inventory in February of last year, HAR reported.
“February was a positive month overall for Houston real estate, but we really need growth in inventory to ensure that there is a plentiful supply of homes as we enter the spring buying season,” said HAR Chair Kenya Burrell-VanWormer with JP Morgan Chase.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, has stated on numerous occasions that home builders must increase the pace of new construction to relieve the inventory problem.
The tight inventory pushes up pricing and affordability is a hurdle for many Americans, particularly first-time home buyers.
The median home price in February in Houston was $226,200. A decade ago in February 2008 the median price was $151,000 and Houston had a 6.1-months inventory of homes for sale.
Founded in 1918, the Houston Association of Realtors is a 37,000-member organization with a Multiple Listing Service that includes properties in Harris, Montgomery, Fort Bend and other counties.