Houston home sales up for Sept, but numbers deceiving

October 19, 2011 4:10:32 PM PDT
The latest home sales numbers look great -- a huge increase over the same month last year. But a closer look seems to reveal something else. That's because the last couple of years the normal market patterns were thrown off.

You want to see home sales going up and that's the case for September, but to get a better idea of just how well or poorly the market is doing, you have to go back to 2008 before tax credits expired and Hurricane Ike hit.

On Morning Lake Drive, Connie Murphy's house has been on the market just three weeks and she already has a buyer.

"I am thrilled because I bought a smaller house over about three blocks from here," Murphy said.

She is fortunate. She lives in one of the hottest selling areas in the country -- Cinco Ranch. The activity here is fueling a 17 percent increase in home sales across the area according to the Houston Association of Realtors.

"We are as agents seeing an increase in sales and we cannot be compared to the rest of the nation that is still lagging behind, in some areas way behind the curve," said realtor Christi Borden.

While the increase is welcome news, Borden says the last two years are difficult to use for comparisons. In 2009, Ike destroyed September housing sales and in 2010 the expiring homebuyers tax credit lead to a September slow down. To get a better idea of how the market is performing, experts say compare September sales this year to those in 2008.

"What we are seeing with sales is a diminution of about 3.4 percent," Borden said.

A 3.4 percent drop is not the best news, but realtors add values have risen since then.

"The interesting thing is the average sales price is up about 4.1 percent, so to have sales go down and price go up we still have a strong market," said Borden.

While the prices may be up in some areas in Houston, others are still hoping the value of there homes will go up in the next few months.

Borden says the reason sales here are better than most parts of the country can be traced to job growth which is good news for everyone.

"As long as we have positive growth in our housing market and positive activity, then it does bode well even for those not selling their home," Borden said.

Something else to consider is that inventory is down which could mean some buyers are holding of selling until prices that had dipped start to rebound.

So have things started to turn around for buyers? Financing remains one of the biggest barriers to getting a house. The woman we showed you had an offer that fell through on her home and on her street another home had two offers that fell through. It is still an issue.

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