By STEVE BROWN
Real Estate Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Buyers rushing to get ahead of mortgage rate increases helped fuel an 8 percent jump in North Texas home purchases in January.
Area real estate agents sold 5,863 preowned single-family homes — the most ever for the first month of the year, according to data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University and North Texas Real Estate Information Systems.
The sales boost came with a 15 percent jump in median home prices. A midprice home sold by agents went for $225,000.
The increase in January home prices follows an almost 12 percent price rise in the fourth quarter in Dallas-Fort Worth, according to the National Association of Realtors.
The D-FW area was among the 20 markets with the greatest home price gains in the Realtors’ quarterly survey of 178 metro areas.
Nationwide, prices were up about half the rate of D-FW’s fourth-quarter year-over-year gain, rising 5.7 percent.
Prices were up in all but 11 markets that the Realtors survey each quarter. Across the U.S., median sales prices are back to peak levels of a decade ago.
“Depressed new and existing inventory conditions led to several of the largest metro areas seeing near or above double-digit appreciation, which has pushed home values to record highs in a slight majority of markets,” said Realtors chief economist Lawrence Yun.
D-FW had the greatest fourth-quarter price bump among Texas’ major markets. Austin had the second-largest year-over-year gain at 8.5 percent.
North Texas home prices have risen more than 40 percent in the last four years.
The largest fourth-quarter national price gains were in Rockford, Ill., up 25 percent from a year earlier; Elmira, N.Y., up 21.8 percent; and Yakima, Wash., up 18.7 percent.
Last year, 87 percent of U.S. markets saw home prices increase, according to the Realtors. A shortage of homes for sale is putting pressure on prices in many areas.
At the end of 2016, there were 1.65 million existing homes available through real estate agents — 6.3 percent fewer than a year before. That’s the lowest level of homes on the market since the Realtors began tracking listings in 1999.
With interest rates rising in the last couple of months, D-FW homebuyers have been moving ahead on purchases to lock in lower finance costs.
“That’s certainly part of the increase we are seeing,” said Ted Wilson of Dallas-based housing analyst Residential Strategies Inc. “We saw that trend at the end of the year.”
Wilson said that as long as job growth continues in North Texas, demand for housing will remain strong, even with moderate mortgage rate increases.
The supply of homes for area buyers remains constrained. At the end of January, 16,092 preowned homes were listed for sale with agents — 1 percent less than January 2016.
On average, it took 49 days to sell a house, 8 percent less time than a year earlier.
One of the biggest increases in home sales in January was for properties priced between $250,000 and $300,000. Sales in that range were up 42 percent from January 2016.