North Texas home sales retreat in July for the first time in almost two years

Steve Brown - Dallas Morning News

Published: 08 August 2016 02:48 PM

Updated: 08 August 2016 02:59 PM

Dallas-Fort Worth's super hot housing market may have hit the ceiling.

North Texas home sales were down by 2 percent in July from 2015 levels. It was the first year-over-year dip in preowned home sales in almost two years.

And pending sales for August indicate another slight drop in sales may be in the works.

The decline in sales last month didn't put cool prices.

The median price of single-family homes sold by North Texas real estate agents was up 9 percent from July 2015, according to data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University and the North Texas Real Estate Information Systems.

Even with the easing of sales, North Texas home purchases remain at near record levels.

During the first seven months of 2016, real estate agents have sold 58,865 single-family homes in the almost two dozen counties included in the month numbers. Year-to-date home sales in North Texas are up 6 percent from last year's record.

And median home sales prices so far in 2016 are 9 percent higher than in the first seven months of last year.

With home supplies remaining tight - especially houses priced below $200,000 - buyers are having a harder time finding properties they can afford.

"I wouldn't be surprised that with the higher house prices consumers are experiencing some sticker shock," said Ted Wilson with Dallas-based housing analyst Residential Strategies Inc. "As prices continue to rise, they can't keep on going like this without some pushback from buyers.

"This isn't the first time we have seen such a lull in the market."

North Texas home prices have increased by more than 40 percent in the last five years and are 50 percent higher than where they were at the peak of the last housing boom in 2007.

"Certainly affordability is a big issue," Wilson said.

The inventory of homes for sale with real estate agents in North Texas is more than twice as high for properties above $400,000 compared with houses priced below $250,000.

"There is a declining pool of buyers at the higher price points," Wilson said.

The chronic shortage of homes in North Texas is a significant factor in July's home sales decline from a year earlier, said David Brown with Metrostudy Inc. Booming employment growth and moves to the area this year have kept demand for housing high.

"New listings of single family homes were down 9 percent and inventory was down 4 percent during July compared to a year earlier," Brown said. "The low inventory is providing a governor on the growth in sales.

"The decline in sale is due to the lack of available attractive inventory in desirable locations at the most affordable prices."

It only took 36 days on average to for houses to sell in July - the lowest days on market on record for North Texas.

With the number of pending but not yet completed home sales down 6 percent from a year ago, don't be surprised if August's home sales total is also off from 2015 levels.