REAL ESTATE Home sales down; prices, supply up
Local home sales have slowed slightly from the rates boosted by the aftermath of Tropical Storm Harvey, but low inventory could be having an effect on home prices.
The latest real estate report released from Texas Realtors, the state-level Realtors association, showed sales were down 2% compared to the same quarter last year in the Beaumont-Port Arthur Metropolitan Statistical Area and home inventory is up to an almost four-month supply.
The report used data from the state and local Realtor associations with analysis from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M.
Katrina Wright, president of the Beaumont Board of Realtors and an agent with American Real Estate, said it was true that sales were slightly slow as usual during colder months, but the drop in sales didn’t necessarily mean the rush for homes in Southeast Texas was over.
“We’re still looking toward some of the influx from people resettling after Harvey,” Wright said. “With inventory down, it has been a seller’s market, but we are finally getting some inventory that we can sell.”
Active listings have increased 27.1% since the same time last year, but the median home price also has increased — 9.5% to $150,500.
Wright said some of the homes bought by property investors after Harvey have started trickling back onto the market, but it was still unclear if it would be enough to help buyers looking for homes in the median home price.
In Orange County, inventory supply might not be bouncing back as quickly as in Beaumont.
Karen Stevens, an agent with Coldwell Banker Southern Homes, said the margins for people looking to flip houses in the area were reduced due to regulations on how long investors have to keep homes and builders insurance requirements.
With the market relying largely on home builders facing higher construction costs, a rise in median home prices was probably associated with how small the available inventory in the area is, especially in the popular range between $150,000 and $200,000.
“People are smart sellers and we have smart agents, so they are able to get those prices,” Stevens said.
The area’s housing inventory did rise slightly to around four months’ inventory in the first quarter from just under three in the same time last year.
Statewide, home sales were only slightly up with less than a 1% increase compared to last quarter, but the median price increased by almost 3% to $230,000.
The two most popular price ranges throughout the state were $200,000 to $299,999 with 32% of sales and the $100,000 to $199,999 range with 30.5% of sales.
Jim Gaines, chief economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, said sales picked up in March thanks to lower interest rates and warmer weather, along with home prices.
“During the first quarter, sales increased by around 1% across the state with notable gains in sales volume in March in the major markets,” Gaines said in a statement. “The median price also continued to rise, but at a substantially slower rate. Furthermore, listings finally showed signs of growth with a corresponding rise in months inventory, but it’s still a tight market overall.”