Existing-home sales in North Texas finished last year 17 percent ahead of 2012, making it the biggest sales year since 2008, according to the latest report from the Texas A&M University Real Estate Center.In all, 88,562 homes were sold in the 29-county North Texas area in 2013, topping 2012 sales by 13,355 homes and putting it well above the 2008 total of 76,362 homes, the report shows. Annual home sales dipped as low as 63,851 in 2010.Boosting the annual number was a 9 percent increase in December sales, typically a slow time of the year. In North Texas, 6,259 homes were sold.Jim Gaines, an economist with the Real Estate Center, said job and population growth were among the reasons for the strong sales. He predicts 2014 sales could be just as strong.If 2012 was the first year of the recovery from the downturn, 2013 was the jump up to where we were, Gaines said. The fact that were even that close to the prior peak makes it interesting.The National Association of Realtors said recently that 2013 salaes would be the best nationwide in seven years, but higher mortgage rates and home prices will have some effect on sales this year.Nationwide, existing-home sales are expected to reach 5.1 million last year, a gain of almost 10 percent over 2012, the group said.We may have reached a cyclical low because the positive fundamentals of job creation and household formation are likely to foster a fairly stable level of contract activity in 2014, said Lawrence Yun, NARs chief economist, in a statement. The National Association of Home Builders also said buyer traffic was up in December even though there was a lower inventory of new homes for sale. Separately, Dallas-based Residential Strategies said new home building in the fourth quarter was flat, with 4,514 new starts, compared to 4,598 starts in the fourth quarter of 2012.Some builders reported mixed results with regard to buyer traffic and sales early in the quarter, said Ted Wilson, principal with Residential Strategies. But generally most builders shared with RSI that their overall sales results remained positive for the quarter, especially at the higher price points.New home closings climbed during the quarter, the firm said. Dallas-Fort Worth builders closed on 5,218 homes between October and December, an increase of 720 homes from the year-ago quarter.In North Texas, the median existing-home sales price for all of 2013 was $174,000, up 10 percent from 2012, the Real Estate Center report said. The figure is below the national median existing-home price of $197,300, which was up 12 percent from 2012, the Realtor group said.The number of houses listed for sale in North Texas in December dipped to 19,100, a 13 percent drop from December 2012, the Real Estate Center said.The Real Estate Center compiles sales data from real estate listing services.
Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727 Twitter: @SandraBakerFWST