Third-quarter home sales in Texas jumped 18% over the same period a year earlier, reaching a level not seen since 2002 and 2003, the Texas Association of Realtors said in its quarterly housing report. For the three months ended Sept. 30, the association recorded 58,019 single-family home sales, with a median sales price of $151,800, roughly unchanged from a year earlier. Meanwhile, the average home sales price in Texas fell 1% to $197,833. "We expected a significant jump in sales this quarter because, this time last year, sales were artificially low due to the homebuyer tax credit that pushed demand into the second quarter. Overall, we are thrilled by the performance of the market this quarter and believe these results illustrate the strength of Texas' housing economy," said Dwight Hale, chairman of the Texas Association of Realtors. Jim Gaines, an economist at the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, said he expects the second half of 2011 to outperform last year. Inventory levels started to decline during the third quarter, with the Texas market maintaining an supply of 7.4 months compared to eight months a year ago. Gaines says inventory levels could pick up again if foreclosures start moving through the process more quickly. "Listings were down in part due to fewer distressed properties on the market as Texas' foreclosure rates declined in recent months," Gaines said. "While Texas does not have the backlog of foreclosures seen in many other states, we do still have some pending. As these distressed properties hit the market, we will probably see a fluctuation in inventory in the coming months." Write to Kerri Panchuk.