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RISMEDIA, August 16, 2007—With widespread reports of mortgage companies across the country filing for bankruptcy, shutting down operations or having difficulty finding the money to fund loans, the greater Houston real estate market held up remarkably well in July. 

Sales actually rebounded from the previous two months of declining sales.  While the inventory growth of available homes for sale slowed from its recent torrid pace, prices were mixed.  The only price segment that continues to show signs of moderate weakness is the $80,000 to $150,000 range, which is clearly the result of the mortgage and lending issues.

Total property sales for the month registered 8,114, which was a 1.1% increase versus July 2006.  Properties sold during the month reached a total of nearly $1.7 billion, a 5.3% increase compared to last year’s nearly $1.6 billion in July sales.  Additionally, the median home price for a single-family home reached $155,100 for July, and the average single-family home price came in at $209,339, a decline of 0.5% and an increase of 1.8%, respectively. 

“Everyone has heard the saying that real estate is local, but unfortunately, the mortgage industry in national.  While the Houston housing market has held up much better than the rest of the nation, the mortgage finance problems that have been widely reported have resulted in some volatility in our market in the lower price ranges. In these more uncertain times in the housing market, it is even more important to make sure to seek the counsel of a real estate professional,” said Rob Cook, HAR Chairman and broker/owner of Robert D. Cook Properties. “The good news for Houston is that energy prices remain strong, job growth continues and the local economy shows resilience.  If any market in the country can withstand the impact of the lending woes it will be this region.”

July Monthly Market Comparison

All listing categories combined, Houston’s overall housing market in July saw mixed results, with increases in total property sales, total dollar volume, and average sales price on a year-over-year basis. A decline was seen in the median sales price.

The number of available homes (active listings) at the end of July was 52,976 properties, which was an increase of 16.1% versus last July and the 13th month with a year-over-year increase, after 10 consecutive previous declines.  The figure was an increase of only 200 properties from last month, which shows that the summer selling season is likely slowing, as is typical as the school year approaches.  It is still a figure to watch to see if inventory of available homes rises faster than sales, which could eventually place downward pressure on prices as well, especially with the rash of foreclosures in this market.

Month-end pending sales – those listings expected to close within the next 30 days – reached 5,520, which was up 8.1% from last year and signals a possible extension of the rebound from the prior two months of declining sales.  The month’s inventory of single-family homes for July came in at 6.2 months, which is the fifth consecutive year-over-year increase and does signal that new listings are outpacing sales, but still remains more of a seller’s market.

Single-family Homes Update

The overall median price of single-family homes of $155,100, while still the fourth highest median ever for the Houston market, is the first month without a year-over-year increase since the summer of 2004 with a 0.5% decrease from the prior year.  The average sales price for single-family homes was $209,339 during July, which was up 1.8% versus the same period last year and was also a record high for the month of July in Houston.  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 $155,100 is 32.7% less than the national median price, which reached $230,300 in June, 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 in July came in at 6,856, which was 1.6% higher than July 2006 and reversed the previous two months of declining sales.  Year-to-date sales remain negative this month, down 0.4% versus the first seven months of 2006.  While it is little more than half way through 2006 and still too early to tell, Houston has not experienced an overall yearly decline in more than a decade so this is something to watch as the year progresses.

HAR also reports existing home statistics for the single-family home segment of the real estate market.  For the month of July 2007, existing single-family home sales totaled 5,895, which was a 3.9% increase from July 2006. The median sales price for existing homes in the Houston area was $150,000, only a slight 0.1% increase compared to the same period last year.  The average sales price for the month of $198,219 was an increase of 2.4% from last year’s level.

The Days on Market statistic for July was 76 days, which is historically low and shows that the homes that are selling are selling more quickly. 

Townhouse/Condo Update 

The overall median price in the townhouse/condo segment in Houston was up 1.2% for July, with the median sales price for the month being $122,000.  The average sales price for which a townhouse or condo sold in the greater Houston area was $159,401 in July 2007, which was an 8.2% increase from the same month last year.

Additionally, the number of townhouses and condos that sold in July extended its trend, with the third monthly decline in a row compared to the previous year’s sales.  In the greater Houston area, 660 units were sold last month, versus 681 properties in July 2006, or a 3.1% decrease in year-over-year sales. 

Houston Real Estate Milestones in July

– Highest average single-family home sales price for the month of July
– Highest ever number of single-family homes listed for sale
– Highest number of homes ever sold in July
– Fourth highest median sales price in Houston history

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