North Texas home sales, prices inched higher in March

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North Texas home sales rose slightly in March.

But the 1 percent year-over-year gain in sales of houses by real estate agents wasn’t enough to erase declines earlier in the year.

For the first quarter of 2019, sales of houses were down 3 percent in the real estate agents’ multiple listing service compared with the same period last year.

Real estate agents sold 21,009 North Texas houses during the just-completed quarter.

That was down from the record sales in first quarter 2018, according to data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University and the North Texas Real Estate Information Systems.

Dr. James Gaines the chief economist with the Real Estate Center said he anticipates the D-FW home market will improve a bit for the spring and summer.

"I’m expecting the second quarter to be positive – but I don’t think it will be a big positive," Gaines said. "I think home prices are going to be flat."

Median sales prices in the area were up a scant 1 percent to $251,000 so far this year.

"Prices are not really going to come down a whole lot, but they won’t be going up as fast as the last several years," Gaines said. "The market is leveling off."

At the end of March, there were more than 23,051 single-family homes listed for sale with real estate agents in the more than two dozen North Texas counties included in the survey — an increase of 20 percent from a year earlier.

The amount of time it takes to sell a house in the area has increased 16 percent from last March to 58 days on average.

"Homes are sitting on the market a little longer, but it’s still a strong market," said Cathy Mitchell, president of the MetroTex Association of Realtors. "Anything that is priced $300,000 and below is moving really fast.

"There is still frustration on affordability."

North Texas median home prices have risen more than 50 percent since the recession and are still at record levels.

But the rate of home price growth in the area has slowed dramatically since last summer.

Some neighborhoods have seen small declines in home prices.

Real estate agents say they are cautioning sellers not to over-reach with pricing.

"Sellers talk to their neighbors about how much they got a year or two ago," Mitchell said. "But we are having to price according to what the latest sales say the value should be."

At the end of March, there was a 3.3-month supply of homes listed with real estate agents in North Texas. It’s still less than what is considered a balanced market, which is a six-month inventory.

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