As forecast, the North Texas housing market had one of its best years ever in 2014.
Existing home sales finished 1 percent ahead of 2013 but still slightly below the peak levels of 2006, according to the latest report from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.
In all, 90,028 homes were sold in the 29-county North Texas area, topping 2013 sales by 1,466 homes, the report said. Annual home sales dipped as low as 63,851 in 2010 during the recession.
They had reached a peak in 2006. Just in the greater Fort Worth area, 28,490 homes were sold that year.
In December, historically a slow month, sales were unusually strong, with 7,107 homes sold in North Texas, a 12 percent gain over 2013.
Jim Gaines, an economist with the Real Estate Center, said low interest rates kept drawing buyers to the market last year, and that should continue this year. Even as oil prices have declined, home sales in Fort Worth have done well because the city’s economy isn’t solely dependent on energy.
“The economy is still, in the greater Fort Worth area, doing well,” Gaines said. “Jobs are being created, and you’re getting the population growth.”
North Texas ended the year with 4,845 pending sales, 26 percent more than in December 2013, the report said. Inventory of homes for sale continues to be low, however. Last month, 16,518 were listed for sale in North Texas, a 14 percent drop from a year ago, the report shows.
In Tarrant County, home sales rose 91 percent in the south Fort Worth-Everman-Forest Hill submarket and 76 percent in the central Arlington-Dalworthington Gardens-Pantego area, the report said.
The market should be getting a boost from construction of new homes. In a separate market report Thursday from Dallas-based Residential Strategies, home starts in Dallas-Fort Worth ended the year 24 percent higher than at the end of 2013.
Last year, builders started construction on 25,902 homes, and sales have been robust, said Ted Wilson, principal with Residential Strategies.
“Most builders reported that activity surpassed their individual business plans,” Wilson said. “No doubt the combination of attractive mortgage rates, strong job growth and positive local economic news helped to propel the market higher. Looking forward into 2015, builders remain optimistic about the prospects for housing.”
Gaines said the housing market statewide should start strong this year. It’s the back half of the year that worries housing economists, mostly because of the huge drop in the price of oil.
“It’s the big unknown,” he said. “What we do expect to see in the second half are cutbacks in drilling activity and capital budgets on upstream operations [exploration and drilling] and a decline in the rate of new jobs being created.”
Job growth fuels home sales.
In North Texas, the median sales price in December was $193,940, 11 percent above December 2013. For the year, the median price was $186,000, 7 percent ahead of 2013, the report shows.
On average, a home sold within 57 days of being listed, the report shows.
Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727