Supported by a shrinking unemployment rate, home sales in Houston rose for the eighth consecutive month in January.

Single-family home sales across the nation’s fourth-largest city spiked 9.2% from January 2011, according to the Houston Association of Realtors. In fact, every segment of the city’s housing market experienced positive sales activity except homes priced from $500,000, which remained unchanged year-over-year.

Foreclosure property sales in Houston climbed 22% in January compared to a year earlier. Foreclosures comprised nearly 28% of all property sales during the month, higher than the monthly average of 21% in 2011. January’s median price of foreclosures held steady from a year earlier at $82,550.

January sales of all property types in Houston totaled 3,632, up 4.8% from the first month of 2011. Total dollar volume for properties sold during the month increased 5.9% to $683 million from $645 million a year ago.

HAR Chairman Wayne Stroman attributed the sales gains to employment growth.

“You generally don’t experience a strong real estate market without healthy employment,” he said.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Houston’s unemployment rate stands at 7.3%, below the national rate of 8.3%

For 2011, the median price of single-family homes across the Bayou City rose slightly from $153,990 in 2010 to $155,000 in 2011.

The average price of a single-family home in January remained constant at $194,765 compared to the same month a year earlier. The single-family home median price barely moved as well versus the year-ago period, coming in at $139,900.

“The January report shows continued strength in the Houston housing market that we began seeing in the latter part of 2011, and it gives us cause for optimism as we look ahead to the typically active spring and summer buying months,” Stroman said.

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