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Texas housing market, economy one of the strongest in the nation

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Texas homes sales in 2010 dropped 5% compared to a year earlier; however, home prices remained relatively stable, a sign that the state has one of the strongest post-crisis economies in the nation. Nearly 203,000 homes sold last year, according to a recent report by the Texas Association of Realtors. The median price for the year was $147,600, a 1% increase from 2009. Data for the Texas quarterly housing report is analyzed by the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University using statistics compiled from 47 multiple listing services in markets throughout Texas. The report includes data for single-family home sales over the course of one quarter. Fourth-quarter home sales hit 43,603, an almost 19% drop from the fourth quarter of 2009. The median price during that period rose 3% compared to the year prior, up to $147,400. Jim Gaines, an economist at the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M, said the percent drop in quarterly home sales is not necessarily indicative of a trend or depreciation in the market. "In evaluating the fourth quarter of 2010, we must remember we're comparing it to the fourth quarter of 2009, which was the most heavily government-stimulated quarter of that year with the federal first-time homebuyer tax credit," Gaines said. "So, it's not surprising to see a substantial difference in sales volumes when comparing those quarters." The amount of inventory on the Texas market at the end of the fourth quarter was 7.5 months, according the TAR. The firm and its university research counterpart consider inventory anywhere in the range of 5.5 to 7.5 months a balance of supply and demand in the market. "Despite the difficulties of 2010, census figures have confirmed Texas has emerged in a stronger position than almost everywhere else in the country," said Dwight Hale, 2011 chairman of TAR. "Our homes are some of the most affordable in the country and we’re seeing job growth substantially greater than national averages, which will continue to fuel the recovery in Texas." Write to Christine Ricciardi. Follow her on Twitter @HWnewbieCR.

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