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Houston Shows Continued Pricing Strength in April Despite Lingering Slowdown

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RISMEDIA, May 21, 2008-Sales of single-family homes across greater Houston slid in April, but the average price of those homes increased for a third straight month to the highest level ever for the month of April and 2008, according to statistics released by the Houston Association of Realtors® (HAR). The average price surpassed its level in April of 2007, the second best year on record. Single-family home sales fell 11.0 percent on a year over year basis.

The average price of a single-family home rose by 0.9 percent last month to $207,270 from $205,490 in April 2007. The median price of a single-family home was stable at $150,000. Sales of all property types for April 2008 totaled 6,432, which represents a 12.8 percent drop compared to April 2007. Total dollar volume for properties sold during the month was recorded at $1.3 billion versus $1.4 billion one year earlier, a 9.9 percent decline.

“Coming off of two consecutive record years, the Houston real estate market is demonstrating relative stability while other cities continue to suffer dramatic declines in both sales and pricing,” said Michael Levitin, HAR chairman and principal of HTownRealty.com. “We avoided a bubble thanks to Houston’s history of moderate growth in home values. The healthy local job market and diverse economy have created dynamics that are conducive to a faster recovery and we anticipate conditions to improve in the second half of the year.”

April Monthly Market Comparison

All listing categories combined, Houston’s overall housing market in April saw mixed results. The average single-family home sales price rose on a year-over-year basis while the median price held steady; total property sales and total dollar volume dropped.

The number of available homes, or active listings, at the end of April was 36,035 properties, a 2.8 percent increase over April 2007. However, the figure was down 16,235 properties from March 2008, possibly reflecting a wait-and-see approach on the part of would-be home sellers seeking assurances that the market is ripe for sales.

Month-end pending sales – those listings expected to close within the next 30 days – reached 4,173, which was 7.1 percent lower than last year but a dramatic improvement from the 18.9 percent year-over-year decline in March. The month’s inventory of single-family homes for April came in at 6.4 months, a slight increase from March’s 6.3-month figure. This compares to the April 2007 single-family homes inventory of 5.8 months.

All Categories  April 2007  April 2008  Percent Change 
Total Property Sales 7,372  6,432  -12.8% 
Total Dollar Volume  $1,433,924,268  $1,291,822,134  -9.9% 
Average single-family sales price  $205,490  $207,270  +0.9% 
Median single-family sales price   $150,000  $150,000  0.0% 
Total active listings  35,037  36,035  +2.8% 
Total pending sales  4,493  4,173  -7.1% 
Months inventory *  5.8  6.4  +11.6% 

* 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 average sales price for single-family homes was $207,270 in April, up 0.9 percent versus the same period last year when it was $205,490. The overall median price of single-family homes in April was $150,000 compared to the national single- family median price of $193,900, according to statistics released by the National Association of Realtors®. These data continue to illustrate the higher value and lower cost of living prevalent in the Houston market.

Additionally, total April sales of single-family homes in Houston came in at 5,388, which was 11.0 percent lower than April 2007 but an improvement from the 15.9 percent slide in March. Brisk year-over-year sales activity continued in Houston’s low-end single-family home markets, with a 27.3 percent increase among homes priced below $80,000.

HAR also reports existing home statistics for the single-family home segment of the real estate market. In April 2008, existing single-family home sales totaled 4,565, which was a 9.6 percent drop from April 2007. At $189,514, the average sales price for existing homes in the Houston area dipped 1.4 percent compared to the same period last year. The median sales price of $140,610 for the month was unchanged from last year’s level.

The Days on Market statistic for April dropped to 84 from 87 a month earlier but exceeded the 75 days registered in April 2007.

Townhouse/Condominium Update

At $130,000, the median price in the townhouse/condominium segment in Houston rose 5.1 percent from April 2007 to 2008. The average sales price for which a townhouse or condominium sold in the greater Houston area was $169,646 last month, up 5.7 percent compared to April 2007. Both median and average prices were the highest ever for the month of April.

April sales of townhouses and condominiums reached the highest level since August 2007 but were down from one year earlier. In the greater Houston area, 564 units were sold last month versus 704 properties in April 2007, translating to a 19.9 percent decrease in year-over-year sales.

Houston Real Estate Milestones in April
Largest number of single-family home sales of 2008;
Highest average single-family home sales price for the month of April;
Average single-family home price increased by 0.9 percent to $207,270, the highest level of the year, while median single-family home price remained flat at $150,000;
Sales of single-family homes below $80,000 continued to rise by 27.3 percent;
Sales of townhouses and condominiums reached highest level since last August with the highest median and average prices ever for the month of April.

The computerized Multiple Listing Service of the Houston Association of Realtors includes residential properties and new homes listed by 26,000 Realtors throughout Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties, as well as parts of Brazoria, Galveston, Waller and Wharton counties.

For more information, visit http://www.har.com.

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