Housing Slump Continues But Not in Houston

The National Association of Realtors says sales of existing homes went up 3.1 percent in July, while home prices continued to fall. Despite more sales, the national housing slump is continuing, but not in Houston. Jim Bell reports.

Housing sales were up last month nationally, because prices are low and bargain hunters are grabbing them up in parts of the country that are hit hardest by the housing bust.  Even so, rising unemployment, a glut of unsold houses, plus tighter lending rules are keeping residential real estate under a dark cloud.  Locally, it's a different picture.  Michael Levitin at the Houston Association of Realtors says yes, sales are down, but it's important to remember what they're down from.

"What we've been doing is comparing the sales in 2008 to 2007 in Houston, and that was a record year." 

image of Houston neighborhood

Levitin says real estate, like politics, is local, and the national downturn just isn't hitting Houston as hard as it's hitting other areas. Houston's home values are actually increasing, because word is out all over the country that Houston is where the jobs are.

"A lot of national publications are putting out that Houston is the place to live and earn a living, and people who come to Houston find that they can get a lot of home for their dollar." 

The median price of a house in Houston went up in July to 161 thousand dollars, while the national median price sank to 212 thousand dollars.  Levitin says Houston is also one of the few places in the country where new houses are selling as fast as the builders can build them. 

Jim Bell, KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.