Houston home sales dip after strong January
Single-family home sales in Houston dipped 2.2% on a year-over-year basis in February, putting a slight damper on the sales surge the city experienced in January, the Houston Association of Realtors said Wednesday. When analyzing all property types, Houston recorded 3,906 sales in February, with foreclosures accounting for 21.5% of the transactions, down from 24.7% in January and 16.5% a year ago. Houston's home sales rose in January for the first time in seventh months, sending a wave of optimism throughout the local market. Despite the slight drop in February home sales, the optimism remains with median home prices rising to the highest level on record, thanks to increases in luxury and low-end market sales, HAR said. The median home price in February was $151,900, up 3.9% over the year-ago period. "The popular middle segments of the Houston housing market, consisting of homes priced between $80,000 and $250,000, experienced declining sales while the low and high ends saw increases — the most dramatic among the $500,000-plus luxury segment," the association said. "The February housing report is encouraging if you recall that a year ago the federal government was rolling out the first-time homebuyer tax credit, and consider the fact that homebuyers today face more stringent lending guidelines than ever before," added Carlos P. Bujosa, HAR chairman and VP at Transwestern. "While we anticipate growth in the Houston real estate market this year, we do not expect it to come all at once. Factors that give us cause for at least cautious optimism in the months ahead are that local employment figures have been strong and that we are about to enter the spring home buying season." Write to Kerri Panchuk.