Paul Sakuma/The Associated Presss
North Texas home sales have been up for almost 18 months.
A surge in November home sales has dropped the inventory of houses on the market in North Texas to the lowest level in more than a decade.
Area real estate agents last month sold 5,709 pre-owned single-family homes through their multiple listing service, up 18 percent from November 2011.
With the latest increase, home sales are up 17 percent for the first 11 months of 2012 compared with the same period last year.
This year’s strong sales have reduced the supply of houses on the market in North Texas to 3.9 months.
That’s the lowest level since the summer of 2000, according to figures from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University and the North Texas Real Estate Information Systems.
While pre-owned home sales in North Texas have been rising for almost 18 months, housing analysts caution that the big increases won’t continue unless more properties are put up for sale.
“We can’t have the sales if we don’t have the listings,” said Dr. James Gaines, an economist with the Real Estate Center. “In some markets, the Realtors are desperately hunting houses for the clients to buy.”
The inventory of pre-owned single-family homes for sale has dropped below two months in some North Texas residential districts, including Coppell, Grapevine and Allen.
A six-month supply of houses on the market is considered a balanced inventory. And the month’s supply of homes on the market is now almost half what it was in North Texas in 2009.
Even with stronger demand, Gaines said, sellers have been reluctant to bring their properties to the market.
“Some of it is still the psychology of waiting for the market to get better and prices to get up where I want to sell my house,” he said. “The prices haven’t bounced back up that much yet, but they are getting there.”
In November, median sales prices were up 11 percent in November to $156,500.
Some of the biggest November price hikes were in Fairview (up 58 percent from last year), Northwest Dallas (up 52 percent) and Garland (up 33 percent).
“People are beginning to think that now prices are going up, they’ll list their house in the next six months to a year,” Gaines said. “But there is still doubt in the market from people who don’t have to sell.”
And some potential sellers may worry about finding a new house and getting financing.
“We hear that some people fear putting their house on the market because it would sell so fast there is no place for them to move to,” said Ted Wilson, with housing analyst Residential Strategies Inc. “They also worry they may have trouble qualifying for a new loan.
“The mortgage requirements are still very stringent.”
Buyers who can’t find a pre-owned house they like won’t find much inventory in new houses, either. The supply of finished, unsold new homes on the market in North Texas is very tight, Wilson said.
“The builders can’t get them built as fast as they are selling them, and their backlog keeps climbing,” he said.
Housing economists expect the current uptick in North Texas home sales and prices to carry over into 2013.
The outlook for December is another strong month for housing.
Pending home sales are up 15 percent from this time last year.
Dallas-Fort Worth area home resales
November pre-owned home sales and prices in North Texas and change from a year earlier:
Average days on market
Listed for sale
SOURCES: Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University; North Texas Real Estate Information Systems