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The New Year Ushers in Houston’s First Increase in Home Sales in Seven Months

by Houston Agent

Despite the bone-chilling winter weather, Houston’s housing market heated up in January, recording the first increase in property sales since June 2010. Pricing also heated up in the first month of the new year, with the average price of single-family homes reaching the highest level ever for a January in Houston.

Houston Skyline

Houston Skyline - Image by Bilderbuch/Design Pics/Corbis

“Houston’s residential real estate market has definitely gotten the new year off to a healthy start,” says Carlos P. Bujosa, HAR chairman and VP at Transwestern. “Housing inventory appears to be balancing out, but the economy as a whole remains somewhat fragile, so I believe we need to see how home sales perform in the next month or two before being able to accurately predict what 2011 has in store for us.”

January sales of single-family homes throughout the Houston market rose 7.5 percent when compared to January 2010. Positive activity was recorded in all segments of the housing market, with the sharpest increases in sales volume taking place at opposite ends of the pricing spectrum.

Luxury home sales helped propel the average price of a single-family home, which increased 2.2 percent from January to $196,879. The January single-family home median price—the figure at which half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less—dipped 3.2 percent from one year earlier to $139,000, due to hefty sales volume among homes priced at $80,000 and below.

Foreclosure property sales reported in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) declined 4.7 percent in January compared to one year earlier. Foreclosures comprised 24.7 percent of all property sales in January, down from the 26.7 percent share they held at the beginning of 2010. The median price of January foreclosures fell 4.0 percent to $80,600 on a year-over-year basis.

January sales of all property types in Houston totaled 3,413, up 9.5 percent compared to January 2010. Total dollar volume for properties sold during the month was $643 million versus $574 million one year earlier, representing an 11.9 percent gain.

Month-end pending sales for January totaled 2,478, up 7.7 percent from last year. That suggests the likelihood of further strengthening in demand when the February figures are tallied. The number of available properties, or active listings, at the end of January rose 13.7 percent from January 2010 to 31,232. Despite the increase in sales volume, growth in available housing pushed the January inventory of single-family homes to 7.3 months compared to 6.1 months one year earlier. The figure still compares favorably to the national inventory of single-family homes of 8.1 months reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

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