ActivePaper Archive Getting even hotter - The Dallas Morning News, 2016-07-09

NORTH TEXAS HOUSING MARKET

Getting even hotter

Sales set a record in June, and prices hit their highest level ever

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G.J. McCarthy/Staff Photographer

A home that sold in the 2700 block of Abrams Road is shown. Pending home sales in North Texas are running 20 percent ahead of where they were in June 2015, indicating that next month will also bring strong housing activity.

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North Texas home prices hit an all time high in June as local real estate agents sold the most houses ever in a single month.

Last month, 10,857 pre-owned single-family homes were sold in the area, 7 percent more than in June 2015.

With June’s increase, pre-owned home sales are 9 percent above last year’s record purchases during the first half of the year, according to data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University and North Texas Real Estate Information Systems.

“Your housing market is going and blowing,” said Dr. James Gaines, chief economist with the Real Estate Center. “It’s uncharted in the sense of price levels and sales levels.

“Each year for the last couple years has been higher and higher,” Gaines said. “The rate of increase of the home sales and prices is what has surprised me the most.”

The median price of North Texas houses sold by real estate agents in June through their multiple listing service was $237,500, up 8 percent from June 2015 and a record level for this area.

June’s median home sales price for the area was almost 80 percent higher than the midpriced home value in January 2010 at the worst of the recession. And prices were 50 percent higher than at the peak of the last bull housing market in mid-2007.

“The prices have gone up about 40 percent in just the last four years,” said Ted Wilson, principal with Dallas housing analyst Residential Strategies Inc. “A lot of consumers’ expectations of how much house they can get for their money have changed with the house prices up so much.

“The fortunate news is these higher prices are coming at a time when we are seeing mortgage rates back down to rock bottom levels,” Wilson said.

Nationwide average mortgage rates this week for 30-year fixed rate loans fell to 3.52 percent, the second-lowest rate on record, according to Bankrate.com’s weekly national mortgage survey.

“You wouldn’t be seeing this type of activity in the market if the mortgage rates had gone up like a lot of people expected,” Wilson said. “Consumers are jumping to take advantage of this if they can.”

Finding a house to buy in North Texas is still a challenge. At midyear, there were less than 20,000 single-family homes listed for sale with real estate agents in the more than two dozen counties included in the North Texas numbers.

“The inventory is still extremely tight,” Gaines said. “There is only a 2.3-month supply, which is nuts. It’s getting progressively tighter and tighter.”

On average, it took only 37 days to sell a house in this area as of June, an 8 percent drop in time on market from a year ago.

The biggest increases in home sales this year — about a 25 percent jump — have been properties priced from $250,000 to $600,000.

The prices of homes valued at less than $150,000 have dropped in 2016 because of the shortage of inventory at this price range.

Sales of homes for $1 million and more are 6 percent higher than in the first six months of 2015. Real estate agents have sold 650 million-dollar homes so far in 2016.

Pending home sales in North Texas are running 20 percent ahead of where they were in June 2015, indicating that next month will also bring strong housing activity.

“June and July are always the two highest months for sales,” Gaines said. “Some of the corporate relocations to your area are just now showing up with people instead of just announcements.

“That’s a big factor in the demand for housing in D-FW, too,” he said. “I don’t expect any letup because Dallas right now is the poster child of the country for growth for a community its size.”

Twitter: @SteveBrownDMN