The nation's housing market has gone from sizzling to simmering, as higher prices and interest rates drove down demand and sales over the fall and winter months. In fact, national realtor Redfin reports the proportion of homes on the market with competing offers was just 13 percent in January, down from 53 percent a year earlier.
The same thing is happening here in Houston. After the market roared into 2018 like a lion, it has entered 2019 more like a lamb. "We had a decline in the number of sales (for January), and I think that probably low inventory could be one of the reasons, so sales were down a little over four percent (from a year ago)," says Tim Surratt, realtor with Houston's Greenwood King Properties.
Nevertheless, the average and median home prices in Houston were still up slightly year-over-year in January according to the Houston Association of Realtors, signaling the local market remains fairly healthy. "I think we've been lucky enough to continue to have the number of jobs added to our market," says Surratt. "That's really helped keep our market in check."
Surratt tells KTRH that Houston still has about a 3-month inventory of homes, well below the 6-month threshold for a seller's market. However, sellers are no longer able to almost name their price, as has been the case in recent years. "You're going to have to pay attention to what your neighbor's house sold for, and the consensus of the real estate agents you interview on where you should price it," he says. "And you shouldn't price it above that, or it will sit on the market."
Overall, he gauges Houston closer to the middle between a seller's and buyer's market. "We still have a very tight supply, but it's not tight enough to create bidding wars," says Surratt. "We haven't had bidding wars, unless it's just a really special property in a special location."