MLS Press Release

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Public Relations Manager
3693 Southwest Freeway
Houston, TX. 77027
Phone: 713-629-1900 x258
E-mail: david.mendel@har.com
Chief Communications Officer
3693 Southwest Freeway
Houston, TX. 77027
Phone: 713-629-1900 x155
E-mail: matt@har.com
Multiple Listing Service of the Houston Association of REALTORS® includes residential properties and new homes listed by 36,000 REALTORS®
March 2007 Sales
Houston Market Continues To Defy National Gravity As Single-Family Home Sales Drop While Prices Continues To Rise
Market Maintains Healthy Status Despite First Decline in Three Years
 
HOUSTON — (April 12, 2007) – Single-family home sales for March were down compared to the same month last year for the first time since 2004 in the Houston real estate market, but it was still the second highest number of sales ever recorded for the month of March and a 23.3 percent increase from last month. The fact that this March did not result in the total number of sales generated in March 2006 did not prevent a simultaneous increase in sales prices. The Houston area real estate market continued to outpace most of the nation and experience growth, although the rate of increase slowed from recent years, according to statistics released by the Houston Association of Realtors®.

Housing in the Houston region has avoided the more pronounced drops experienced by most other major U.S. metropolitan markets. Forecasters speculate that the number of local foreclosures and more stringent lending standards may be possible contributors to the slowdown in growth, not to mention Houston has seen an unprecedented sales volume for the last five years so a small adjustment still leaves Houston with a stable market.

Total property sales for the month registered 7,267, which was a 9.6 percent decrease over March 2006. Properties sold during the month reached a total of more than $1.4 billion, a 2.0 percent decrease compared to last year’s nearly $1.5 billion in March sales. Additionally, the median home price for a single-family home reached a monthly record for March of $150,590, and the average single-family home price came in at $205,815, increases from last year of 5.2 and 7.1 percent, respectively.

“We are going to watch with great interest during the coming few months to see whether the decline in sales was a single month phenomenon or the start of a slowdown,” said Rob Cook, HAR Chairman and broker/owner of Robert D. Cook Properties. “March had a tough comparison because of the great market at this time last year, but prices continue to show the steady growth that we have experienced for the last decade or more. There is absolutely no need to be overly concerned at this point.”

March Monthly Market Comparison

All listing categories combined, Houston’s overall housing market in March saw mixed results, with increases in average and median sales prices, pending sales and months inventory and decreases in total property sales and dollar volume on a year-over-year basis.

The number of available homes (active listings) at the end of March was 47,872 properties, which was an increase of 14.1 percent versus last March and the ninth month with a year-over-year increase, after 10 consecutive previous declines.  The figure was an increase of more than 2,400 properties from last month, which is typical for the beginning of the year as more homes are listed for sale.  It is still a figure to watch though to see if inventory of available homes rises faster than sales, which could place downward pressure on prices as well.

Month-end pending sales – those listings expected to close within the next 30 days – reached 5,653, which was up 2.7 percent from last year, and signals an initial expectation for at least a modest increase in April sales. The months inventory of single-family homes for March came in at 5.5 months, which is the first year-over-year decline in more than two years, but continues to signal more of a seller’s market.
All Categories March 2006 March 2007 Percent Change
Total property sales 8,042 7,267 -9.6%
Total dollar volume $1,471,571,858 $1,442,635,610 -2.0%
Average single-family sales price $192,194 $205,815 +7.1%
Median single-family sales price $143,170 $150,590 +5.2%
Active listings 41,948 47,872 +14.1%
Pending sales 5,506 5,653 +2.7%
Months inventory* 5.2 5.5 +5.2%
* Months inventory estimates the number of months it will take to deplete current active inventory based on the prior 12 months sales activity. This figure is representative of the single-family homes market.
 
Single-family Homes Update

The overall median price of single-family homes of $150,590 was a record for the month of March and the fourth highest median sales price in Houston history—an increase of 5.2 percent compared to the prior year. The average sales price for single-family homes was $205,815 during March, which was up 7.1 percent versus the same period last year. The median is a typical market price where half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less than that figure.

Houston’s current median price of $150,590, while another monthly record for the Houston market, is 28.7 percent less than the national median price, which reached $211,100 in February, according to statistics released by the National Association of REALTORS®. These data continue to show the tremendous value and lower cost of living afforded to Houstonians.

Additionally, total sales for single-family homes in Houston came in at 6,004, which was a shift in course for March, reflecting an 8.8 percent decline versus the same month last year.  This was the first decline in single-family home sales since January 2004, when sales slid 0.6 percent versus the previousyear.

The Houston market has not experienced consecutive months of year-over-year declining sales since June-July 2000. April sales will be an initial indicator whether this month’s figure was just a blip on the radar or the beginning of a weakening market. The year-over-year decrease is also largely attributedto an abnormally strong March 2006, which created a more difficult year-over-year comparison. In fact, looking at the change in sales between March 2005 and March 2007, single-family home sales have increased 12.0 percent.

HAR also reports existing home statistics for the single-family home segment of the real estate market. For the month of March 2007, existing single-family home sales totaled 5,045, which was a 6.5 percent decrease from March 2006. The median sales price for existing homes in the Houston area was $140,000, an increase of 3.3 percent compared to the same period last year. The average sales price for the month of $189,956 was an increase of 6.3 percent from last year’s level.

Townhouse/Condo Update

The overall median price in the townhouse/condo segment in Houston was up 15.5 percent for March, with the median sales price for the month being $136,000.  The average sales price for which a townhouse or condo sold in the greater Houston area was $177,891 in March 2007, which was an 18.7 percent increase from the same month last year.

Conversely, the number of townhouses and condos that sold in March declined compared to the previous year’s sales for the second month in a row, which is the first time that has happened since early 2003. In the greater Houston area, 601 units were sold last month, versus 705 properties in March 2006, or a 14.8 percent decrease in year-over-year sales.

Houston Real Estate Milestones in March
  • Highest average sales price for the month of March and second highest ever
  • Highest ever number of single-family homes listed for sale
  • Highest median sales price for the month of March and the fourth highest in Houston history
  • First decline in single-family home sales since January 2004
  • Highest median townhouse/condo sales price for the month of March and second highest ever
  • Highest ever average townhouse/condo sales price
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    The computerized Multiple Listing Service of the Houston Association of REALTORS® includes residential properties and new homes listed by 25,000 REALTORS throughout Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties, as well as parts of Brazoria, Galveston, Waller and Wharton counties. Residential home sales statistics as well as listing information for more than 50,000 properties may be found on the Internet at http://www.har.com.

    The information published and disseminated to the HAR Multiple Listing Services is communicated verbatim, without change by Multiple Listing Services, as filed by MLS participants.

    The MLS does not verify the information provided and disclaims any responsibility for its accuracy. All data is preliminary and subject to change. Monthly sales figures reported since November 1998 includes a statistical estimation to account for late entries. Twelve-month totals may vary from actual end-of-year figures. (Single-family detached homes were broken out separately in monthly figures beginning February 1988.)

    Founded in 1918, the Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR) is a 26,000-member organization of real estate professionals engaged in every aspect of the industry, including residential and commercial sales and leasing, appraisal, property management and counseling. It is the largest individual membership trade association in Houston, as well as the second largest local association/board of REALTORS® in the United States.