Friday, January 22, 2010

2009 was a long, strange trip in the Dallas-area home market

How you look at the Dallas-area housing market has a lot to do with what neighborhood you're in.
In 2009, median home sales prices were up in Westlake, Richardson, Garland and Duncanville. But in the Park Cities, North Dallas and Lancaster, there were more double-digit price declines. And while home sales were flat for the year in Frisco, down the road in Plano the number sold through the Realtors' Multiple Listing Service fell 16 percent.
"2009 was perhaps the strangest in my 32 years in the business," said sales agent Barry Hoffer of Ebby Halliday Realtors. "It was hard to really read any trends at all.
"With most of the emphasis on the negative side of the business news, many qualified buyers were just reluctant to make a move at all – and that despite discounted home prices, negotiable sellers and very attractive interest rates," he said. "I sense more calmness in the market now, and, hopefully, 2010 will be a decent year."
Total home sales in North Texas dropped 11 percent in 2009 and overall median prices were flat, according to statistics from North Texas Real Estate Information Systems Inc. and the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.
The job market is expected to rebound in Dallas-Fort Worth this year, and residential agents are more optimistic. The last couple of years have been tough for the local housing industry.
By the neighborhood
"I believe the real estate recovery in 2010 will give some neighborhoods the boost they are waiting for," said Lydia Player of Virginia Cook Realtors. "Other areas are going to be much slower to see improvement.
"However, we'll see a rise in the number of sales and in prices across the board," she said. "As sales strengthen in each neighborhood, they will have a positive effect on the other neighborhoods in the city."
The large number of foreclosed homes coming on the market in North Texas will be a drag, analysts and agents agree.
"When there is a clearance sale going on in the neighborhood, it's going to be hard to sell your home without offering a discount as well," Player said. "Fortunately for some neighborhoods, the distressed sales have been few."

Overall foreclosure filings were up 23 percent in the D-FW area last year.

Listings slide

Even so, pre-owned home listings in North Texas are down 14 percent from a year ago.
"It will be interesting to see what homeowners do this spring," Player said. "A huge number of buyers and sellers have been dipping their toe into the market."
Several economists are predicting a slight uptick in Texas home prices this year. That would be good news for the neighborhoods that have suffered declines. But not all boats will rise with the tide.
"As the prices adjust and inventory decreases, then the markets will level off and the differences in neighborhoods will become more consistent," said Robbie Briggs of Briggs Freeman Realtors. "There will obviously always be differences due to many factors regarding location, school districts, convenience and demographics."

DMN/Steve Brown