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Sales volume, price up in 2009-Q4 according to Texas Quarterly Housing Report

First-time homebuyer tax credit, homeowner-friendly public policies cited as keys to market strength

February 01, 2010 — Austin

According to data provided by the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, Texas’ housing market saw increases in sales volume and price in the fourth quarter of 2009. As reported in the first Texas Quarterly Housing Report, Texas’ sales volume for single-family homes for 2009-Q4 was 53,050, up 16 percent from the same quarter of 2008. The median home price in Texas also saw increases, from $140,100 in 2008-Q4 to $143,400 in the same quarter of 2009, a 2.35 percent increase.

“While figures throughout the last quarter of 2009 were positive compared to 2008, they were particularly positive in October and November, which makes it clear that the first-time homebuyer tax credit is having an impact in Texas,” said Jim Gaines, Ph.D., an economist with the Real Estate Center. “The increase in median price also stands out, particularly compared to national figures, which are down substantially.”

Texas also saw a decrease in the number of months of inventory in the market over the quarter, from 6.6 months to 6.5 months. Months inventory is an indicator of the supply of homes for sale in a market relative to the demand for homes. The Real Estate Center typically uses 6.5 months as the benchmark for a balanced market, meaning a reasonable supply of houses is being offered for sale relative to demand on a monthly basis.

Bill Jones, chairman of the Texas REALTORS®, commented on the results: “We’re encouraged to see Texas’ real estate market performing well, both in terms of sales volume and price. Our state has been fortunate throughout the economic downturn and it’s encouraging to see that continue with robust results like these.”

One reason the Texas REALTORS® cites for Texas’ strong real estate market is a legislative environment that promotes homeownership. In the last session of the Texas Legislature, Texas Realtors advocated to reform the state’s property appraisal system to improve fairness for homeowners. Texas Realtors succeeded in requiring appraisal districts to adopt a uniform set of standards for appraisals and supported legislation that strengthened homeowners’ rights against seizure of private property under eminent domain.

Chairman Jones continued, “Homeowners interact with Realtors every day, but very few know what the Realtor organization does to protect their property rights. From appraisal reform and eminent domain to property tax reduction, Texas Realtors are vigilant in ensuring Texas remains a great place to buy and sell a home.”

The economic picture may not look as positive in the future, however. Gaines explained: “Foreclosures in 2008 and 2009 were driven by subprime mortgages, which did not affect Texas as much as other parts of the country. However, a new wave of foreclosures is expected starting in 2010 driven by unemployment among those with prime mortgages. A larger number of these foreclosures will impact Texas.”

“Texas weathered the last few years relatively well, but we’re not out of the woods,” said Jones. “We’re in the midst of election season and Texas Realtors are selecting the candidates they support carefully. When lawmakers go back to work in 2011, they’ll face a big budget deficit and tough decisions. As they do, they must remember how important a strong real estate market has been to protecting the livelihoods of Texans. They must also ensure they don’t increase the tax burden homeowners can barely afford now and risk damaging one of our state’s most effective economic drivers.”

To view the Texas Quarterly Housing Report for 2009-Q4 in its entirety, visit TexasRealEstate.com.

About the Texas Quarterly Housing Report

Data for the Texas Quarterly Housing Report is provided by the Data Relevance Project, a partnership among local REALTOR® associations and their MLSs, and Texas REALTORS®, with analysis by the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. The report provides quarterly real estate sales data for Texas and 25 metropolitan statistical areas in the state. The Texas Real Estate Year-in-Review Report in February and the Texas Real Estate Mid-Year Report in August are released in lieu of the Q2 and Q4 reports each year. To view the report in its entirety, visit texasrealestate.com.

About Texas REALTORS®

With more than 125,000 members, Texas REALTORS® is a professional membership organization that represents all aspects of real estate in Texas. We are the advocate for REALTORS® and private property rights in Texas. Visit texasrealestate.com to learn more.