Friday, January 23, 2015

Big price gains, short supply set tone for Dallas’ housing market

The Dallas area had one of the biggest home price increases on record in 2014.


Average prices rose 12 percent from 2013 levels in the 46 areas The Dallas Morning News analyzed for a year-end comparison.
The biggest price gains were in several southern Dallas County residential districts — including Wilmer-Hutchins, Southeast Dallas, Lancaster and Oak Cliff — where single-family home sales prices rose by more than 20 percent, according to data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.
Prices jumped at double-digit percentage rates in more than half of the areas.
Housing analysts and longtime sales agents don’t expect last year’s high home price appreciation rates to continue indefinitely.
“I can’t imagine we will see the kind of appreciation we have seen over the last couple of years,” said Rich Thomas, executive director of the MetroTex Association of Realtors. “I think things will level out a little bit.
“But overall I think we will see much of the same in 2015 as we saw in 2014,” Thomas said. “It’s still going to be a tight market.”
A shortage of houses for sale in the Dallas area has combined with robust economic growth to create the current housing crunch.
There’s only about a two-month supply of preowned homes listed for sale with Realtors in the area. A normal market is about six months of inventory.
“Inventory is still at an all-time low,” said Mary Frances Burleson, CEO of Dallas’ Ebby Halliday Realtors. “I just wish we had more homes.
“People are not rushing to put their house on the market and sell it,” she said. “Every time I go to a sales meeting we talk about inventory and what to do.”
Because so few houses were available, Dallas-area home sales were basically flat in 2014 compared with the year before. The largest sales increases were in Lancaster, Ellis County, Wylie and Euless.
Home sales fell in about half of the residential areas, with the largest declines in affluent neighborhoods with scare supply, including North Dallas, the Park Cities and Southlake.
“I think 2015 will be another good year for smart agents who can get the listings,” said Virginia Cook, CEO of Dallas’ Virginia Cook Realtors. “I think buyers realize that one day mortgage rates will go up, and it could be a substantial increase.”
Current low home finance rates have motivated some potential buyers, said David Brown who oversees the Dallas office of Metrostudy Inc.
“With rates down, it’s causing people to get into a rush,” Brown said. “Buyer traffic is up substantially, and earlier than normal.”
Analysts and some sales agents are predicting that home price gains will slow in the Dallas area this year.
“I think prices have leveled off, and the hip pocket listings aren’t selling like they were,” said Dallas agent Allie Beth Allman. “The sellers are worried about the oil market.
“Residential real estate is driven by emotion and fear.”
By Steve Brown/Dallas Morning News