Dallas-Fort Worth home sales score double-digit gain!

Posted by Emily Ray-Porter Group on Thursday, November 12th, 2009 at 10:13am.

Dallas-Fort Worth home sales score double-digit gain

07:37 AM CST on Tuesday, November 10, 2009
By STEVE BROWN / The Dallas Morning News
sbrown@dallasnews.com

Pre-owned home sales in North Texas were up 11 percent in October from a year ago – the first year-over-year gain since September 2008 and the best sign yet that the local housing market has turned the corner.

Real estate agents sold more than 6,300 single-family homes through the Multiple Listing Service last month, according to numbers released Monday by the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University and the North Texas Real Estate Information Systems.

October's increase was only the second year-over-year rise in home sales in three years.

Housing analysts say there's no doubt that the shift was fueled by the federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers.

"Clearly, the $8,000 tax credit has brought additional buyers into the market," said Ted Wilson of Dallas-based Residential Strategies Inc. "The news from the housing sector is turning more positive.

"And the outlook for the next eight months looks quite bright as well," he said. "With extension of the tax credit – along with a new $6,500 tax credit targeted at buyers who have lived in their house for five years or more – we anticipate a more robust spring 2010 market."

Most of the October increase came from sales of moderately and low-priced homes. Sales of the most expensive homes are still down significantly from a year ago.

The new figures also suggest that higher overall sales will continue. At the end of October, the number of pending transactions was up almost 30 percent from a year ago.

But economists warn that it's too early to say the housing rally will hold up.

"While the October numbers look very promising, we should be wary of putting too much weight on one month's data," said D'Ann Petersen, a business economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. "Still, there are positive signs in the numbers. The rise in pending transactions suggests sales may continue to trend up, and inventories edging down bodes well for stable prices."

The positive statistics are "another sign that the worst is behind us," Petersen said.

Median home sales prices were up 1 percent last month from a year earlier – the fourth consecutive month that prices were flat or slightly higher.

Other recent studies from S&P Case-Shiller and the National Association of Realtors have shown that home prices in Dallas-Fort Worth have bottomed out.

North Texas home prices are still about 10 percent lower than they were in mid-2007.

Inventory numbers are improving, too. At the end of October, 33,981 homes were listed for sale in the area – a decline of 16 percent from 2008. That works out to just under a six-month supply, which is considered a balanced market.

Increasing home sales benefit more than just the local housing industry, real estate executives say.

"Every time a house sells, it adds our to economy," said Mary Frances Burleson, president of Dallas' Ebby Halliday Realtors. "People buy furniture. They pay the moving company and the title company.

"It brings a lot of dollars to many businesses," she said. "Every time we come out of a real estate downturn, housing leads the way."

Even with the recent improvements, pre-owned home sales in North Texas are down 15 percent through the first 10 months of 2009 from the same period last year. Median sales prices are off 1 percent for the period.

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