Why Houston Home Prices Don't Follow Trends In National Surveys

This week, a national survey of home prices showed November sales prices were down in 19 of the 20 cities surveyed. The Case-Shiller index does not include Houston, where prices have remained relatively stable, compared to the cities in the survey. There are a number of reasons why Houston home prices don't reflect what's happening in much of the rest of the nation.

Ted C. Jones is a real estate economist, based in Houston.  He says it's important to keep in mind that different home price surveys use different methodologies. For example, the Case-Shiller index compares the sale prices of homes to what they went for the last time those particular homes sold.

"In the Houston index, what we're looking at is if I buy a home today, that price goes into the index. We don't compare to the previous time that same home sold."

Case-Shiller uses a three-month moving average.  Jones says a more accurate measure is a twelve-month moving average, which cancels out seasonal variations in home sales.

"Average home price in Houston, and I'm going to use December data, was up one percent from a year ago.  And if you use the medians, they were up a half-percent from a year ago."

Jones says home prices in Houston and elsewhere in Texas have remained healthy because of job growth, a lack of overbuilding, and the state law that prohibits homeowners from borrowing against more than 80 percent of the value of their homes.

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