“The numbers are a little hard to pin down but I have read numbers from 114,000 to 269,000 homes,” said Raymond Campbell of Houston Home Buyers as he was discussing the hurricane’s damage to Houston’s residential housing market, “but regardless of the number you calculate it is approximately 10% to 15% of the metro area’s housing stock. I think there is some discrepancy because some analyses do not include the houses from the surrounding counties such as Montgomery and Fort Bend. Many homes are still unoccupied and waiting for remodeling. What is easier to calculate and measure is the number of homes for sale – inventory – and the number of homes sold after Hurricane Harvey.”
Meaningful numbers are now becoming available from the area’s realtors and other organizations. As expected, home sales fell after the August 2017 hurricane. Fast forward to seven months later. Comparing March 2018 homes sales with March 2017 there was a 2.5% decrease to 6810 single-family homes. Prices are a different story – they went up – and that is to be expected when the supply is decreased. The March 2018 median home price was $233,500, the highest median home price in Houston’s history. This is a 2.4% increase from a year earlier.
“We have seen the supply of homes tighten and the prices increase in our business. There are a lot of homes that will never be remodeled or elevated and they are just waiting for the homeowners to select one of their last two options – sell their house as-is or the bulldozer,” commented Mr. Campbell, “but what we have seen is a strong price appreciation in the home prices between the half and three-quarters of a million dollar range.” The median home price increased 7% in the past seven months for this segment.
Perhaps the most optimistic number recently reported by the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR) is the pending sales of single-family homes for March 2018. That number is 8327, a 9.5% increase from March 2017. In addition, single-family homes inventory inched up to 3.4 months in March 2018, which is its highest level for the year. The national inventory level is also 3.4 months.
“I think the second half of 2018 will be better for home buyers in the Houston metro area. We will see more new and used inventory become available but that will be overpowered by the population growth of the area. So be prepared for more and larger increases in home prices. But overall, I think the Houston housing market is strong and resilient,” concludes Mr. Campbell.