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Houston Muscle: Market Withstands Impact of Subprime Lending and Increased Foreclosures

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RISMEDIA, March 28, 2007-The greater Houston area real estate market continued to outpace most of the nation and experience growth, although the rate of increase slowed from recent years, according to statistics released by the Houston Association of Realtors®. Housing in the Houston region has withstood the more pronounced drops experienced by most other major U.S. metropolitan markets and only the number of local foreclosures and past several years of less stringent lending standards have been cited as possible contributors to any possible slowdown in growth.

Total property sales for the month registered 5,991, which was a 2.6% increase over February 2006. Properties sold during the month reached a total of more than $1.1 billion, a 5.7% increase compared to last year's nearly $1.0 billion in February sales. Additionally, the median home price for a single-family home reached a monthly record for February of $146,000, and the average single-family home price came in at $195,561, increases from last year of 2.5 and 2.6%, respectively.

"With the reports across the country of rising foreclosures and concern about the impact of subprime lending, we in Houston must watch for any indication of a weakening market," said Rob Cook, HAR chairman and broker/owner of Robert D. Cook Properties. "Houston is still one of the most solid real estate markets in the country, and we do not anticipate any dramatic downturn locally."

February Monthly Market Comparison
All listing categories combined, Houston's overall housing market in February saw increases in most categories, including total property sales, average sales price, median sales price, and overall total dollar volume on a year-over-year basis.

The number of available homes (active listings) at the end of February was 45,466 properties, which was an increase of 11.3% versus last February and the eighth month with a year-over-year increase, after 10 consecutive previous declines. The figure was an increase of 781 properties from last month, which is typical for the beginning of the year as more homes are listed for sale.

Month-end pending sales – those listings expected to close within the next 30 days – reached 4,756, which was up 1.1% from last year, and signals an expectation for continued strength into 2007 for sales. The months inventory of single-family homes for February came in at 5.2 months. This statistic signals more of a seller's market and also shows that demand is more than keeping up with the available supply of homes, as displayed by February reporting the 28th consecutive decline in year-over-year months inventory figures.

* 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.

Single-family Homes Update
The overall median price of single-family homes of $146,000 was a record for the month of February and an increase of 2.5% compared to the prior year. The average sales price for single-family homes was $195,561 during February, which was up 2.6% versus the same period last year. The median is a typical market price where half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less than that figure.

Houston's current median price of $146,000, while another monthly record for the Houston market, is 30.8% less than the national median price, which reached $211,100 in February, according to statistics released by the National Association of Realtors®. These data continue to show the tremendous value and lower cost of living afforded to Houstonians.

Additionally, total sales for single-family homes in Houston continued its streak of year-over-year increases, marking 37 consecutive months that sales have been higher than the same month of the previous year. For February 2007, single-family home sales increased by 3.8% to 4,868, up from last year's 4,688.

Townhouse/Condo Update

The overall median price in the townhouse/condo segment in Houston was up 3.8% for February, with the median sales price for the month being $124,500. The average sales price for which a townhouse or condo sold in the greater Houston area was $164,380 in February 2007, which was a 7.7% increase from the same month last year.

Additionally, the number of townhouses and condos that sold in February decreased compared to the previous year's sales for the first time since 2005, with 516 units being sold last month, versus 550 properties in February 2006, or a 6.2% decrease in year-over-year sales.

Houston Real Estate Milestones in February

- Reached the highest average sales price for single-family homes for February.
- Marked the highest median sales price for single-family homes for February.
- Marked the highest dollar volume of sales for February.
- Recorded the highest number of single-family homes ever sold in February.

The computerized Multiple Listing Service of the Houston Association of Realtors® includes residential properties and new homes listed by 23,000 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.

For more information, visit www.HAR.com.

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