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Rainy weather dampens housing industry

New homes are built at Viridian development in Arlington on Wednesday. . Housing prices rise with fewer houses on the market.
New homes are built at Viridian development in Arlington on Wednesday. . Housing prices rise with fewer houses on the market. Star-Telegram

As housing starts nationwide ramp up, Dallas-Fort Worth builders are still being hampered by weather conditions that began with a soggy January.

In the first quarter, housing starts were down 22 percent locally and the second quarter has seen only a slight improvement.

“The builders are asking for rain charts,” said Ted Wilson, with Dallas-based Residential Strategies, a housing market consultancy. “It just keeps raining. It has continued to bog the builders down. They just can’t pour concrete.”

It appeared builders were hoping the wet conditions in the first three months would turn to more normal dry weather. New home building permits for Tarrant County rose in April to the second highest number since August of 2014, according to numbers from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.

Like many metro areas nationwide, the Tarrant area is showing pent up demand for new homes as well as the need for a larger inventory for existing homes for sale. The tight housing market locally has been apparent for more than a year. And while the wet conditions are helping getting new homes to the market, job growth in North Texas has put huge pressure on housing demands.

Last month, 521 new home building permits were issued, up 21 percent from the same month a year ago. The last time the number peaked over 500 was in April of 2103, with 524 permits issued.

Sales of existing homes were up slightly in April, but the rise came in the median sales price, the data shows.

In April, 1,092 homes were sold in Fort Worth, all valued at $200.6 million worth of real estate. The median sales prices was $154,500. That compares to April of 2014, when 1,032 homes, all valued at $180.7 million, were sold. The median sales price last year was $140,200, the data shows.

At the end of March, the median home price was up 13.6 percent in Fort Worth, up 12.4 percent in Northeast Tarrant, and up 8.7 percent in Arlington, according to market reports.

Despite sitting on huge order backlogs, Wilson said builders are cautious not to overprice for fear the consumer will back away.

Inventories of existing homes for sale also remains low, in Fort Worth at a two-months supply. Inventory levels have been tight for well more than a year.

Pam Yoakum, a real estate agent with the Blaser Yoakum Team at Keller Williams in Southlake, said the current market does favor the seller. Buyers are becoming more creative in sales offers, she said.

She has seen buyers allowing sellers to stay in the home for as much as two weeks after the sale rent-free to give more move-out time, and some costs that were standard for the seller to pay, are now being paid by the buyer, Yoakum said.

“And they’re not asking for many repairs,” Yoakum said. “The market is just really interesting.”

Yoakum said she listed a home two weeks ago for $315,000 and had three offers within six hours. One of the offers was $7,500 higher than the asking price. The seller, she said, selected a lower offer because the sale was not contingent on the buyer selling their home.

“When properties are priced right, there will be multiple offers,” Yoakum said, adding however that “appraisers are still playing a huge role in getting to closing. More and more, homes are appraising for the sales price.”

Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727

Twitter: @SandraBakerFWST

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