May Ushers in Third Straight Monthly Increase in Sales of Single-Family Homes in Houston

by Houston Agent

May marked the third consecutive month of positive single-family home sales across the greater Houston area, as consumers continued to take advantage of the federal government’s homebuyer tax credit. While the credit required homebuyers to have contracts in place by April 30, closings may take place until June 30.

According to the latest monthly data compiled by the Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR), May sales of single-family homes throughout the Houston market rose 19.1 percent compared to May 2009. That follows increases of 10.8 percent in March and 26.7 percent in April. Sales volume showed increases in all single-family home pricing segments, with the largest hike taking place among homes priced between $80,000 and $150,000.

Pricing leveled off last month. After seven straight months of appreciation, the average price of a single-family home dipped 0.9 percent from May 2009 to $209,920. The May single-family home median price—the figure at which half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less—slid 1.4 percent from one year earlier to $154,780. That followed 12 consecutive monthly increases in median price.

Foreclosure property sales reported in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) were flat in May compared to one year earlier. The median price of May foreclosure sales rose 3.5 percent to $89,000 on a year-over-year basis.

Sales of all property types in Houston for May totaled 6,659, up 20.3 percent compared to May 2009. Total dollar volume for properties sold during the month was $1.3 billion versus $1.1 billion one year earlier, representing an 18.9 percent increase.

“The homebuyer tax credit was a real shot in the arm for the Houston real estate market, but we are beginning to see sales volume trend toward more seasonal levels now that the incentive has expired,” said Margie Dorrance, HAR chair and principal at Keller Williams Realty Metropolitan. “This is still an excellent time to buy a home, as mortgage interest rates are at the lowest levels in more than half a century, and the Houston market in particular offers so many different varieties of properties to meet every consumer’s unique needs.”

May Monthly Market Comparison

The month of May brought Houston’s overall housing market largely positive results when all listing categories are compared to May of 2009. Total property sales and total dollar volume increased on a year-over-year basis while average and median single-family home sales prices showed slight declines.

The number of available properties, or active listings, at the end of May rose 13.0 percent from May 2009 to 51,185. That represents 2,316 more active listings than one month earlier, in April 2010, and reflects additional housing inventory that hit the market as a result of interest in the homebuyer tax credit as well as general confidence in improved market conditions.

Month-end pending sales for May—those listings expected to close within the next 30 days—totaled 2,991, down 17.8 percent from last year. This is likely an indication that the effects of the tax credit are beginning to taper. The months inventory of single-family homes for May stretched slightly to 6.8 months compared to 6.2 months one year earlier, but remains better than the national months inventory of single-family homes of 8.4 months, reported by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

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