Houston Real Estate Trends, February 2016 Update

Houston Real Estate Trends, February 2016 Update

Five year Houston real estate trendsThe most recent Houston real estate statistics are available.

The drop in oil prices is having a meaningful impact in some segments of the market, while job gains in health care and the services sector are overcoming the impact of any layoffs in others.

Here are a few highlights:

We recently completed an analysis of over 400,000 home sales in Houston since 2000 (email me if you’d like a copy) and found several key themes:

  • Pundits are notoriously bad at calling either the top or bottom of a market.
  • On average, if you bought a quality home in a quality neighborhood and held for at least 5-7 years, you’ve broken even on your investment – regardless of when you purchased.
  • Quality matters.  Quality was ranked in multiple categories including: location, construction type, floor plan and avoiding being along either a railroad, highway or major thoroughfare.
  • Home buyers who did the worst financially purchased properties that violated two or more of these conditions. Interestingly, over two thirds of buyer who purchased these “disadvantaged properties” bought directly from a builder, didn’t use a Realtor or used the seller’s real estate agent to do “both sides of the deal.”

 

Key Seller Tips:

  • For sellers, in a declining market (regardless of how long a declining market lasts) pricing just below the recent comparable sales (“comps”) is your best option for selling fast for the most money.
  • As the market “normalizes”, it makes sense to price your home based on how the market “trended” the last time it started to slow down. Comparable sales (“comps”) help sellers stay ahead of the curve.
  • Comps are a “rear view” mirror approach of what the market has been, not what the market will be.
  • In declining markets, each month that passes will mean that the value declines as well.
  • To maximize value in a declining market, you want to price where the market is going, not where it’s been, so that someone sees you as a deal, moves quickly and negotiates less on price.
  • In addition, if someone sells faster than you for a lower price, then they “re-set” the comps to a lower amount, and then you’ll have to sell under that.
  • So, in many cases, it’s better for you to be the first one out so you can set the trend, rather than lagging behind.

 

Key Buyer Tips:

  • The key lesson from our study of 400,00 home purchases since 2000, is not to try and “time the bottom” but instead to buy the highest quality home while not overpaying for where the market is at that point in time.
  • Local trends matter. The spike in home inventory is most prominent in the mid-range housing category. Single-family homes priced between $150,000 and $250,000 saw year-over-year sales increase by nearly 9% while total property sales remain unchanged
  • As you’ll see in the below graph, historically, Houston’s “best properties” don’t come on the market in large volumes during major downturns (Houston real estate trends).
  • What has happened historically during downtowns is that prices stagnate and transaction volume falls materially.
  • In the graph below, compare the similarities between the trends between 2014 – 2015 and 2007 – 2008.
  • No one knows what future oil prices will bring.  It may or may not be worse than the “Great Recession.”
  • If it is similar, we can use 2007 as the proxy.  In 2008, we saw price stagnation and in 2009, we saw price appreciation.
  • I believe the key here is to not “chase the market” and buy wisely – both in terms of property quality and appropriate pricing.
  • Contact me for more about what this could mean for you.

 

 

The following is the most recent Houston MLS Report, published by the Houston Association of Realtors. The data covers Houston homes for sale and real estate trends from the last twelve months (January 2014 – January 2015).

January Houston Real Estate Milestones:

  • Single-family home sales declined 2.1 percent compared to January, marking the fourth consecutive monthly decline;
  • Total property sales were unchanged at 4,965 units;
  • Total dollar volume was statistically flat at $1.2 billion;
  • At 262,663, the single-family home average price reached its highest level ever for a January;
  • At $200,000, the single-family home median price also achieved a January high;
  • Single-family homes months of inventory climbed to a 3.3-months supply versus 2.5 months a year earlier;
  • Townhomes/condominium sales rose 15.6 percent with the average price unchanged at $183,076 and the median price up 2.4 percent to $140,000;
  • Leases of single-family homes rose 2.8 percent with rents up 4.2 percent at $1,742;
  • Leases of townhomes/condominiums climbed 12.2 percent with rents up fractionally to $1,568.

 

Custom Report from a Top Ranked Houston RealtorHouston Real Estate Resources

 

Houston Real Estate Updates In January

The Houston housing market kicked off 2016 with a strong month of sales, only about 2 percent off the January record, despite the ongoing effects of strains in the energy industry. Single-family homes priced between $150,000 and $250,000 saw year-over-year sales increase by nearly 9 percent while total property sales remained unchanged.

According to the latest monthly report prepared by the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR), January single-family home sales were down 2.1 percent versus January 2015 with a total of 4,024 sales compared to 4,109 a year earlier. An increase in new listings helped buoy a growth in inventory from a 2.5-months supply to 3.3 months.

“A lot of folks have nervously anticipated that falling oil prices would have a devastating effect on real estate, but so far, the Houston market has weathered the energy downturn without dramatic shifts in sales and pricing,” said HAR Chairman Mario Arriaga with First Group. “The most noticeable impact has been declines in the luxury market, but mid-range housing actually saw a healthy sales volume in January and inventory levels grew. HAR will continue to closely monitor the economic climate.”

 

houston neighborhood map

In the February edition of The Economy at a Glance, the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) reports that 23,200 jobs were added across the Houston metropolitan area in 2015, an increase of less than one percent, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. GHP is forecasting the creation of approximately 22,000 jobs in 2016.

In January, the single-family home average price eked out a fractional 0.3 percent year-over-year increase, reaching $262,663 while the median price—the figure at which half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less—rose 5.3 percent to $200,000. Both figures represent all-time highs for a January in Houston.

January Monthly Market Comparison

January delivered a mixed bag of indicators compared to home sales readings for January 2015. On a year-over-year basis, single-family homes sales declined slightly, total property sales and total dollar volume were flat and average and median sales prices rose.

Month-end pending sales for single-family homes totaled 5,714. That is up 9.1 percent compared to last year. Total active listings, or the total number of available properties, at the end of January rose 15.8 percent from January 2015 to 32,260.

Houston’s housing inventory has held above a 3.1-months supply since May 2015, climbing to a 3.5-months supply last summer and settling at a 3.3-months supply in January. That compares to a 2.5-months supply in January 2015. For perspective, the national supply of homes reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) currently stands at 3.9 months.

CATEGORIESJANUARY 2015JANUARY 2016CHANGE
Total property sales4,9644,9650.0%
Total dollar volume$1,232,119,497$1,227,587,275-0.4%
Total active listings27,86532,26015.8%
Single-family home sales4,1094,024-2.1%
Single-family average sales price$261,913$262,6630.3%
Single-family median sales price$190,000$200,0005.3%
Single-family months inventory*2.53.330.5%
Single-family pending sales**5,2375,7149.1%

* Months inventory estimates the number of months it will take to deplete current active inventory based on the prior 12 months sales activity. This figure is representative of the single-family homes market.

** Effective May 2015, in an effort to be consistent with industry standards, the Houston MLS is now including all categories of pending sales in its reporting. Previously, the Houston MLS did not include “option pending” and “pending continue to show” listings in its reporting of pending sales. The new methodology is now all-inclusive for listings that went under contract during the month.

Single-Family Homes Update

Single-family home sales totaled 4,024 in January, down 2.1 percent from January 2015. That marks the fourth consecutive monthly decline.

The average price increased a fractional 0.3 percent to $262,663 while the median price rose 5.3 percent year-over-year to $200,000. Both are record highs for a January in Houston. Days on Market (DOM), or the number of days it took the average home to sell, edged up to 61 days versus 57 in 2015.

Broken out by housing segment, January sales performed as follows:

 

  • $1 – $79,999: decreased 40.6 percent
  • $80,000 – $149,999: decreased 16.2 percent
  • $150,000 – $249,999: increased 8.8 percent
  • $250,000 – $499,999: decreased 1.0 percent
  • $500,000 and above: decreased 9.3 percent

 

HAR also breaks out the sales figures for existing single-family homes. Existing home sales totaled 3,403 in January, down 1.6 percent versus the same month last year. The average sales price rose less than 1 percent year-over-year to $246,019 while the median sales price climbed 6.7 percent to $186,690.

 

Townhouse/Condominium Update

Sales of townhouses and condominiums shot up 15.6 percent in January. A total of 393 units sold compared to 340 properties in January 2015. The average price was flat at $183,076 and the median price edged up 2.4 percent to $140,000. Inventory grew from a 2.4-months supply to 3.0 months.

Lease Property Update

Demand for single-family lease homes rose 2.8 percent in January while townhomes/condominiums saw demand increase 12.2 percent. The average rent for single-family homes climbed 4.2 percent to $1,742 while the average rent for townhomes/condominiums rose just under 1 percent to $1,568.

The computerized Multiple Listing Service of the Houston Association of REALTORS® includes residential properties and new homes listed by 25,000 REALTORS® throughout Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties, as well as parts of Brazoria, Galveston, Waller and Wharton counties. Residential home sales statistics as well as listing information for more than 50,000 properties may be found on the Internet at http://www.har.com.

The information published and disseminated to the HAR Multiple Listing Services is communicated verbatim, without change by Multiple Listing Services, as filed by MLS participants.

The MLS does not verify the information provided and disclaims any responsibility for its accuracy. All data is preliminary and subject to change. Monthly sales figures reported since November 1998 includes a statistical estimation to account for late entries. Twelve-month totals may vary from actual end-of-year figures. (Single-family detached homes were broken out separately in monthly figures beginning February 1988.)

Founded in 1918, the Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR) is a 26,000-member organization of real estate professionals engaged in every aspect of the industry, including residential and commercial sales and leasing, appraisal, property management and counseling. It is the largest individual dues-paying membership trade association in Houston as well as the second largest local association/board of REALTORS® in the United States.

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