Houston housing market set new records in 2020, says HAR

by Kerrie Kennedy

Despite being in the crosshairs of a global pandemic, oil crisis and recession, the Houston real estate market exceeded expectations and shattered records in 2020.

According to a new report from the Houston Association of Realtors, single-family home sales surpassed 2019’s record volume by more than 10% while sale of all property types were up 11.6% from 2019, marking the second time in history that total property sales broke the 100,000 level.

According to HAR, the designation of real estate as an ‘essential service’ shortly after stay-at-home orders shut down real estate activity in March and April, was a key factor to 2020’s success.

Despite the many challenges —   including record low housing inventory — Houston Realtors shifted to virtual technology in order to keep themselves and their clients safe as the market quickly rebounded over the summer and for the rest of the year.

Total dollar volume for 2020 was up 18.1% year over year to a record-breaking $35.3 billion.

“When the coronavirus pandemic struck, we expected the real estate business to hit a brick wall and never fathomed the possibility of 2020 becoming a record year for the Houston market,” said HAR Chairman Richard Miranda in a press release. “HAR worked closely with elected officials to secure the ‘essential service’ designation for real estate, which cleared the way for our hard-working Realtor members to help consumers find the homes they needed. HAR’s virtual open house and virtual showing technology proved invaluable in enabling consumers to safely tour the properties that interested them.”

Single-family home sales for the month of December jumped 25.5% compared to December 2019, with the strongest activity among homes priced between $500,000 and $750,000, which were up 80.8% year over year. Sales of homes priced at $750,000 and above were up 54.0% while homes in the $250,000 to $500,000 range rose 44.6%.

Prices of single-family homes established new highs in December. The median price rose 8.7% to $273,443 while the average price rose 11.4% to $347,164.

But brisk sales in 2020 meant shrinking inventory — by the year’s end, housing inventory in Houston was down to its lowest level in history, a 1.9-month supply. A 6-month supply has traditionally been considered a “balanced market.”

“As we enter 2021, we find ourselves in critical need of inventory if we are to sustain a healthy pace of home sales,” added Miranda.

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