Fresh on the heels of a record-breaking 2019, home sales across greater Houston began the new year with a strong showing as consumers continued to take advantage of historically low interest rates. Homes priced between $500,000 and $750,000 drew the most buyers in January followed by homes in the $250,000 to $500,000 range. Activity among properties for lease also registered solid gains during the month.
According to the latest monthly Market Update from the Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR), 4,699 single-family homes sold in January compared to 4,112 a year earlier. That represents a 14.3 percent increase – the seventh consecutive positive month and the greatest January sales volume hike in seven years. The single-family home median price (the figure at which half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less) rose 4.5 percent to $234,000 and the average price climbed 4.6 percent to $291,034. Both figures represent the highest prices ever for a January.
Sales of all property types totaled 5,800, up 15.2 percent from January 2019. Total dollar volume for the month surged 17.1 percent to about $1.6 billion.
"January is a traditionally slower month for home sales coming off the holidays, but the Houston market continues to benefit from low mortgage interest rates and a generally robust economy with healthy employment numbers,” said HAR Chairman John Nugent with RE/MAX Space Center. “All the January home buying activity lowered our housing inventory a little, but we expect to see that grow again as we approach the spring months when more homes typically hit the market."
The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.45 percent last week, according to figures released by Freddie Mac. That is the lowest level since October 2016. As for the local jobs landscape, the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) reported in its January 24 Houston Employment Update that Metro Houston created 88,000 jobs – a 2.8 percent increase – during the 12 months ended December 2019, according to Texas Workforce Commission data. The GHP also noted that Houston's unemployment rate was 3.6 percent in December, down from 3.9 percent in December 2018.
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