San Antonio-area housing market shows signs of cooling

The local housing market is finally showing signs of cooling after growing at a rapid clip over the last five years.

Last month, 2,427 homes were sold in the San Antonio area, a decline of 2.2 percent from April the year before, according to data released Thursday by the San Antonio Board of Realtors. It was only the third month since spring 2011 in which sales declined.

Home sales increased by more than 7 percent for most months in 2016, but they rose only 1 percent in March and 3.4 percent in February.

“The market is probably slowing down a little bit,” said Jim Gaines, chief economist at the Texas A&M Real Estate Center. “Last year was phenomenally good. You’re still seeing a good market, just not phenomenally good.”

San Antonio’s housing market is still on track to break a sales record in 2017. So far this year, 8,592 homes have been sold, up 2.2 percent from the 8,408 sold at this time in 2016. The market set a sales record last year, with 29,536 homes sold.

The median home price in San Antonio surged by 8.4 percent in April, to a record high of $215,500, according to SABOR’s data. That’s one of the highest price increases over the last few years.

Home sales declined by 0.2 percent in Texas as a whole, by 2.1 percent in Austin’s Travis County and by 5.7 percent in Dallas County, the data show. In Houston’s Harris County, sales increased by 2.8 percent.

It’s no surprise that sales are down from last year’s unusually strong numbers, Gaines said. Also, the pent-up demand from the housing crisis, when potential homebuyers delayed their plans because of the lousy economy, has finally been relieved, he said.

April’s holidays, including Easter and Fiesta, might have also depressed sales, said Yvette Allen, chairman of the board at SABOR.

“As we get into the spring and summer months, I hope that we’ll see that number go up,” she said.

The supply of homes on the market in the Alamo City is still tight, indicating a seller’s market, but it slackened in April for the fourth month in a row. The inventory of available homes — measured by the average time it takes for a home to be sold if no new homes are listed — was at 3.6 months in April, up from 3.5 months in March and a record low of 3.1 months in December.

An inventory of six months indicates a balance between buyers and sellers, analysts say.

"It’s still a tight inventory,” Gaines said. But “the trend is to go back to normal.”

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