Wednesday, August 12, 2009
By STEVE BROWN / The Dallas Morning News
If you're looking for a glimmer of hope in the Dallas-Fort Worth home market, the latest industry survey provides one. D-FW home sales prices were basically flat in the second quarter after a long string of declines, according to the National Association of Realtors' closely watched nationwide survey.
The median price of homes sold in North Texas was down just 0.2 percent from a year earlier in the Realtors' secondquarter survey released Wednesday. Nationwide, home prices fell by a record 15.6 percent during the same period. "The sharpest price declines continue to be concentrated in metros with high levels of foreclosures, including areas in California, Florida, Arizona and Nevada, where distressed homes comprise many of the transactions," Realtor economist Lawrence Yun said in the report.
The D-FW price drop, the smallest in more than a year, follows a drop of close to 5 percent in the first-quarter Realtors' report. Texas cities fared better than many others, with median home sale prices up 2.6 percent in Houston and up 11 percent in Beaumont-Port Arthur.
The Realtors' report reaffirms other recent housing industry data that suggest the North Texas home market is flattening.
"We are beginning to see some more positive trends in the housing market, which is great news," said David Brown, who heads the Dallas office of housing analyst Metrostudy Inc.
"Although it is a short trend, both the new home and resale closings during the last quarter suggest the market is bottoming out in sales volume.
"If the current sales trend holds and inventory continues to fall through the remainder of this year, it will become clearer that we are at the bottom in the market." Other reports
Earlier this week, the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University and North Texas Real Estate Information Systems Inc. reported that median home sales prices in North Texas were up 3 percent in July from a year ago. And through the first seven months of 2009, median single-family home sale prices through the Realtors' local Multiple Listing Service were down 1 percent from the same period of 2008.
Prices were down 3 percent for all of 2008. The D-FW area has had one of the smallest overall home price declines of any major U.S. market during the last two years. Analysts attribute the better home price performance here to the fact that North Texas didn't have a big run-up in residential values a few years ago like most other cities.
Economists anticipate that the D-FW market will be one of the first in the country to rebound.
"Yes, it appears to me that we are at the bottom of the housing market in most Texas cities at this point," said Dr. Mark Dotzour, chief economist at the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M.
The slowdown in homebuilding and very low mortgage rates have both helped the local housing market, Dotzour said. "I feel that now is the time to buy a house in most all Texas cities," he said. "Housing affordability has never been higher than it is right now.
"When the economy starts to rebound nationally, mortgage rates will surely move higher."
EXISTING-HOME PRICE CHANGES
Home prices in the Dallas-Fort Worth area were down 0.2 percent in the second quarter of 2009 compared with a record 15.6 percent nationwide decline. Median home price for each city for second quarter of 2009 and the percentage change from the same quarter of previous year.
Davenport, Iowa $113,200 30.6%
Cumberland, Md. $123,500 21.7%
Elmira, N.Y. $85,000 11.3%
Fort Myers-Cape Coral, Fla. $84,000 -52.8%
Las Vegas $141,800 -39.7%
Riverside, Calif. $161,500 -39.1%
U.S. Median $174,100 -15.6%
Amarillo $127,300 2.2%
Austin $194,000 -0.1%
Beaumont-Port Arthur $138,600 11.0%
Corpus Christi $133,400 -7.6%
Dallas-Fort Worth $150,700 -0.2%
El Paso $131,800 -4.3%
Houston $157,400 2.6%
San Antonio $153,100 -3.2%
SOURCE: National Association of Realtors