Houston Housing Slump Continues

There's good news and bad news in Houston's housing market. Last month's numbers show the average sale price went up — but overall volume of sales is down again. Laurie Johnson reports.

September marks the third month in a row that Houston's home sales are down. Margie Dorrance chairs HAR, the Houston Association of Realtors. HAR releases monthly numbers, tracking the housing market. Dorrance says September sales this year are down 18 percent from the same month last year.

"Our pricing is holding up unbelievably well. Single-family homes were up five percent, which is a really good thing. But the volume, meaning the number of sales, was down. What that's telling us, quite honestly, is that some of the upper end was stronger. That is telling us there haven't been that many people buying that many houses."

Dorrance says there are a couple of reasons for the decline. One is the federal home buyer tax credit expired and the market dropped off after that. Another is people in the mid-range housing market, where most of the sales happen, are still cautious.

"The very bottom of pricing in the market, below $80,000, and the $500,000 and above were both up about 6.5 percent. And then it was those sales prices in the middle range that had the slow-downs."

And the number of pending sales that had not yet closed at the end of September is also down, about 17 percent.Last month's numbers also don't reflect the current moratorium on foreclosures. Those factors suggest the probability of another month of declines when October's numbers are tallied.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...