By Nancy Sarnoff
Houston's housing market saw gains for the fifth-straight month in February as buyers closed on 4,933 single-family homes -- a 4 percent increase over the same period a year ago, the Houston Association of Realtors said Wednesday.
Homes that sold for more than $250,000 showed the strongest sales volume, and luxury homes of at least $750,000 saw their fourth consecutive month of positive sales, according to the association, which tracks transactions through the Multiple Listing Service primarily in Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties. The median price of a home sold in February was $220,000, up 7.3 percent over last year.
Inventory was flat compared with January. Based on recent sales activity, it would take an estimated 3.5 months to sell all of the homes on the market, indicating an environment generally favorable toward sellers.
"We need housing inventory to grow a bit more than it has, but we still believe the Houston real estate market is experiencing sustainable sales levels as we wrap up the first quarter of the year," HAR chairwoman Cindy Hamann said in a statement.
But after years of homes flying off the market in record time, the amount of time it takes to sell a house has been inching up since last summer.
February home sales in Houston
Priced $1 - $99,999: Down 21.0 percent
$100,000 - $149,999: Down 15.8 percent
$150,000 - $249,999: Up 9.4 percent
$250,000 - $499,999: Up 21.1 percent
$500,000 - $749,999: Up 19.8 percent
$750,000 and above: Up 27.9 percent
In February, it took an average of 66 days to sell a house, the highest in three years. That's still low considering the long-term average is around 78 days.
Townhouse and condominium sales in February spiked 17.1 percent with 486 properties selling during the month at a median price of $162,000 -- 8 percent over last year. Inventory grew to 3.8 months from 3.3 months a year earlier.
In line with lower overall apartment rents in the city, single-family rents were down in February as well. Compared with February 2016, the average rent for a single-family home fell 2.1 percent to $1,652, while the average rent for a town house/condominium was off 3.5 percent to $1,478.
Still, the number of new single-family leases were up 8.5 percent.