Houston Housing Market Doing Fine

National home sales are up as median home prices have dropped to their lowest levels in four years. But here in Houston there's a different story. Prices have stayed the same or increased slightly in some areas. Bill Stamps has more.
Even if the economy were good it would be tough for Houston to top last years housing sales, because 2007 was a record year. But Chairman of Houston Association of Realtors Mike Levitin says the downturn in the economy is having its effect on Houston as people are having a tougher time getting a loan.

"You know it used to be where people who probably shouldn't have been able to get a home were able to get a home with the subprime mortgages, and now it's gone the other way where people who probably should be able to get a home can't."

Even with all the talk of recession, mass lay-offs and a floundering stock market…Levitin says there are still plenty of people wanting to buy homes in Houston, but lenders have tightened up so much it's just not as easy as it used to be.

"They're requiring more downpayment, they're requiring higher credit scores and all buyers are under considerably more scrutiny. Prices have actually been pretty steady and moving up a little bit. Our median price went up last month — even with sales going down — and our average price went up."

Mr. Levitin spoke with us from Montreal, Canada where he's speaking to a group of Realtors up there. It seems they're concerned that what's happening in the U.S. will make its way across the border to their neck of the woods.