North Texas home sales for 2012 reach highest point since 2008
By STEVE BROWN
North Texas’ pre-owned home market ended 2012 with the best sales total in four years.
The area saw a 16 percent gain in the number of single-family homes sold through the Realtors’ multiple listing service for North Texas.
And median home sales prices in 2012 rose 8 percent from the year before, according to numbers released Tuesday by the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M and the North Texas Real Estate Information Systems.
For all of last year, 75,207 pre-owned single-family homes were sold by real estate agents in North Texas. That’s up from just 63,832 sales at the worst of the housing market slowdown in 2010.
December home sales in the area were 10 percent higher than a year earlier with 5,658 houses sold through the MLS.
The local housing market rebound has occurred faster than many economists had predicted, largely because of a drop in properties on the market and fewer home foreclosures.
“I thought that 2012 would turn out to be an OK year, but it turned out to be a whole lot better,” said Dr. James Gaines, an economist with the Real Estate Center. “The market has turned, and it’s strengthening.”
Home sales in North Texas recovered to 12 percent below where they were at the top of the market in 2006, when more than 85,000 pre-owned single-family homes were sold by real estate agents.
Sales might have been stronger in the final months of the year if there had been more properties to sell.
At the end of 2012, there was only a 3.5-month supply of pre-owned single-family homes listed for sale with Realtors in North Texas. That’s the lowest inventory of houses on the local market in more than a decade.
“A lot of people that might be thinking about selling have been holding off putting their properties on the market,” Gaines said. “I think that in March, April and May we will start seeing the spring upswing and things will take off.”
Rich Thomas, executive director of the MetroTexas Association of Realtors, said the Dallas-Fort Worth housing market is tight.
“We’ve got relocation buyers who can’t find what they want and are renting,” said Thomas, who expects to see the number of for-sale signs to grow in the weeks ahead.
“You don’t really start seeing an increase in listings until after the Super Bowl is over,” he said.
Fewer than 22,000 single-family homes are currently offered for sale by real estate agents — down from almost 43,000 houses in the MLS in mid-2010.
Home prices in North Texas have recovered most of what was lost during the housing downturn.
In December, the median price of single-family homes sold by area real estate agents was $162,000 in the more than two dozen North Texas counties included in the monthly survey. At the bottom of the market in January 2010, the median price was just $130,000.
The recovery in the pre-owned home market is moving in step with a rebound in the D-FW homebuilding business.
During the fourth quarter of 2012, sales of new houses in North Texas rose by almost 20 percent.
And starts of new homes jumped by more than 48 percent in the fourth quarter compared with the final three months of 2011, analysts at Residential Strategies reported Monday.
Even fewer new homes are available than in the pre-owned market. At the end of 2012, less than 2,000 finished vacant houses were counted in the D-FW area.
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D-FW area home resales
October pre-owned home sales and prices in North Texas and change from a year earlier:
Average days on market 73
Listed for sale
SOURCES: Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University; North Texas Real Estate Information Systems