ActivePaper Archive One direction: up - The Dallas Morning News, 2016-07-12

REAL ESTATE

One direction: up

New home sales, starts and median prices climb in D-FW

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G.J. McCarthy/Staff Photographer

The median price for a new Dallas-Fort Worth home is $320,000, almost $100,000 over the median existing home.

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New home sales in the Dallas-Fort Worth area soared more than 20 percent in the second quarter as buyers sought to take advantage of low mortgage rates.

Delays in home construction earlier in the year also caused a bump in the most recent quarter.

Local builders sold 7,289 new houses in the previous three months, up from 6,029 sales in the second quarter of 2015, Dallas-based housing analyst Residential Strategies said Monday.

It was the strongest quarter for new home sales in North Texas in almost nine years.

“It’s been a long time since we saw sales this high,” said Residential Strategies’ Ted Wilson. “I expect the builders to do well during the next two or three years because of all the relocations coming to the area.”

The jump in home sales came even as the median sales price of a new D-FW home rose above $320,000. That’s almost $100,000 more than a midprice pre-owned house in North Texas.

“Buyer expectations have had to adapt to a market that has been characterized by steadily inflating prices,” Wilson said. “Over the past four years, housing prices are up about 40 percent in D-FW.

“Today’s entry-level builders find it challenging to produce detached housing much under $180,000.”

Builders started 7,875 homes in North Texas in the just-completed quarter, a 3.6 percent increase in building from a year earlier.

Wilson said higher costs for land, labor and construction materials have fueled the big rise in new home costs and held down building volumes. “The builders are having price increases they are having to pass through to the buyers,” he said. “The mortgage rates have come down, so that it helps take the sting out of the higher prices.” During the last 12 months, builders have started 29,449 D-FW homes, the most since before the recession. Labor shortages are pressuring prices and stretching construction times, Wilson said. “There are not enough framers, not enough plumbers and not enough masons,” he said. “There are a lot of builders that are at capacity as far as their construction.” More than 80 percent of homebuilders recently surveyed by the Dallas Builders Association say the lack of labor is causing significant construction delays and cost increases. New home construction in the D-FW area is still running almost 40 percent below where it was 10 years ago, before the recession crippled the local building industry. “We should be doing a lot more starts,” Wilson said. The surge in new home sales this year has been even greater than the increase in existing home sales.

Twitter: @SteveBrownDMN