<!--:es-->Dallas-Fort Worth home sales make unexpected jump<!--:-->

Dallas-Fort Worth home sales make unexpected jump

I am almost afraid to write this for fear of a jinx: the North Texas housing market is doing well. Like, really well. Prices are down a smidge, but July volume was way up.
And maybe, just maybe, I know when we found the bottom.
Steve Brown reports today that pre-owned home sales were up 18 percent — that’s a lot! — in North Texas in July, which is the first year-over-year increase in more than 12 months.
And this is what I have been hearing, and telling you, too: condo and townhomes are moving, prices coming down but volume up 36 percent. My sources at The Ritz and Palomar and even The House tell me they are selling units. Friends just sold a home in Lake Forest that had been languishing for three years, about half a million. The high end is moving, too, because the rich are getting richer and the middle class is dissappearing. Dave Perry Miller sold off 9338 Meadowbrook to his own buyers, Shelly & Barbara Stein of Glazer’s Liquor fame. This is a kind of notorious, 14,000 square fot plus plus plus Preston Hollow home that had been on the market since at least 2008, originally listed for $9 million. It is now the most expensive home to close in the honeypot of Preston Hollow at $6.795 million. The new owners, by the way, are adding on a killer wine cellar which will make a party at that home the most coveted invitation in town.
So why are we doing so well? Wasn’t I on Channel 5 just last week talking about the steepest market decline in prices since gloomy doomy 2009? Prices are down, yes. But what happens when you drop prices? Buyers buy. And that, my dear readers, is very good news and basically means we still have a pulse!
Of course, analysts are cautious. What did Dr. James Gaines (my hero) say?
“All positive news, like compliments, is always welcome. It’s great the sales volume was up. But we need to look inside the numbers.”
Here’s what I think: Distressed sales are driving the sales, as are record low interest rates — please stay tuned to a forthcoming post on how long those will be low: the Fed says till 2013. Investor purchases, said Gaines, could also be influencing the numbers. Less inventory — the number of houses on the market in North Texas is down 14 percent from a year ago, and I am getting daily emails from agents saying they have scoured MLS but cannot find a home to suit their buyers.
I checked in with Kristin Evans over at Altos Research (no relation) to see what she thought from her numbers. Altos analyzes listing prices and reductions, time of sales after those reductions, scrutinizing them like the most anal surgeon along with anything else that affects LOCAL market conditions. In a word, she says Dallas is in pretty good shape. Our listing prices may have bumped down, after bumping up. In January, Altos reports the Dallas average at $225,000 which ticked up to $270,000 about the third week in May — usually a robust month for sales. The last three weeks prices have ticked downward again to $260,000.
That low in January? Kristin says that was the bottom of the market and about the time investors jumped back in. Hence, the bottom.
Steve says agents sold 6,079 pre-owned single-family homes in North Texas last month, down from June’s 6,929, but light years ahead of the 5,153 homes that sold last year in July 2010, right after the first-time home buyer fiasco event. And we are at slightly more than a seven-month supply of pre-owned, single-family homes in North Texas’s 29 county area. That’s one month more than six-months, which is considered normal. I’m not grabbing the Prozac just yet.
Where did people drop money?
Like I said last week, anywhere close-in did well. Northwest Dallas sales were up 71%, northeast Dallas up 68%, even up 59% in Coppell. The far out suburban areas continue to lose sales volume of about 16 percent.
Experts say we won’t expect any rebound news in housing as long as consumer confidence remains depressed and until the job situation improves, even here in job-rich (In-N-Out Burgers) Texas. What concerns me is that the crappy economic news dominating the headlines may take this uptick and slap it right down. Thank you, D.C. for creating the dreaded double dip.