Friday, April 12, 2013

Dallas-Fort Worth home sales soar in March, but listings are slim

The spring housing market started with a rush of sales in North Texas.
But sellers are not rushing into the market with pre-owned home listings.
Sales of pre-owned single-family homes in March rose 22 percent from a year earlier, with 7,483 properties sold. It was the most homes sales for a March since 2007.
And median single-family home sales prices were 8 percent higher last month than in March 2012, the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University and the North Texas Real Estate Information Systems reported Monday.
With March’s increase, sales prices in North Texas are at a record high in area multiple listing services. Median home sales prices are now about $10,000 higher than they were at the peak of the market in mid-2007, before the recession hit. March’s median sales price was $168,000.
“Part of the increase is from demand growth, part is from the short inventory of available properties,” said Dr. James Gaines, Real Estate Center economist. “It’s a double-whammy on prices.”
So far this year, home sales through real estate agents’ multiple listing services are up 19 percent from first quarter of 2012.
Even with the jump in sales and higher prices, there’s no sign of an increase in the number of houses on the market. Total inventory of homes for sale in North Texas at the end of March was down 22 percent from a year ago.
Slim pickings
There’s only a 3.4-month supply of houses listed for sale with agents in the area.
In March, there were 10,857 single-family home listings added to the MLS, about the same as a year ago and less than in March 2011.
The number of homes on the market in the Dallas-Fort Worth area is at the lowest level in more than 20 years, according to the Real Estate Center.
Real estate agents had expected a surge in home listings because of the stronger market, low interest rates and rising prices.
George DeCourcy, associate director of the real estate program at the University of Texas at Dallas, said it will take more than the recent price increases to cause a big jump in homes on the market.
“Prices have come back, but not like a bull,” DeCourcy said Monday. “People feel there is no compelling reason they should move at these prices.
“I think you will have to see significant move-up from here before people decide to list their homes,” he said.
Since many homeowners have refinanced at near record low mortgage rates, their costs of owning their current house have also fallen.
“Even as prices escalate, does it make sense to sell my house and buy another one?” he said. “If home prices went up dramatically, people who had a lot of equity might cash it in, but what would you do with it?”
Indeed, with a shortage of houses for sale in many neighborhoods, potential buyers are often outbid by other shoppers.
The time it takes to sell a house in North Texas dropped to 65 days in March — about a quarter less time than it took a year ago.