More than half of the Dallas area’s neighborhoods have had declines in home sales so far this year — some of them significant.
Usually falling home sales are a sign of an economic malaise.
Not this time.
The drop in Dallas-area pre-owned home purchases in the first quarter is mostly due to a lack of houses on the market.
That’s also what’s pushing local home prices to record highs in many neighborhoods.
“The increase in prices is accelerating, and that’s not good,” veteran Dallas-area real estate appraiser D.W. Skelton said. “The number of buyers is actually increasing, and the inventory available is getting smaller.
“The problem is getting bigger,” he said. “We are hoping it moderates soon.”
But that’s not too likely because this spring there are even fewer houses on the market for buyers to choose from.
Total home sales listings with real estate agents are down more than 10 percent from the first quarter of 2013.
In the most popular neighborhoods in the northern suburbs — markets including Richardson, Plano, Grapevine, Allen and McKinney — less than a third of what is considered a “normal” inventory of houses are for sale.
The housing shortage is causing potential buyers and agents to scramble.
“Our office is seeing multiple offers on almost 60 percent of our deals and many have multiple offers within the first day on the market,” said Becky Connatser with Dave Perry-Miller & Associates. “We also continue to see a drop in days on the market.”
On average, it takes 60 days to sell a house in North Texas.
But local real estate agents said many houses go much quicker.
“From what I hear, this is true for most areas in and around Dallas and North Texas,” Connatser said.
In Allen, Bedford, Grapevine and The Colony, houses sell in 40 days or less on average, according to data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University and the North Texas Real Estate Information Systems.
Almost 40 percent of Dallas-area houses have a sale contract within two weeks of hitting the markets, according to data from Redfin.com.
“It’s insane,” said Scott Schueler with Keller Williams Realty. “They are moving super quick.
“Sellers price it at the top end of the comparable sales and still get multiple offers, beyond anyone’s expectations.”
Overall median home sales prices are up almost 10 percent this year in North Texas.
But in some areas, the price increases are even sharper.
In southeast Dallas, median home sales prices are more than 40 percent higher than in the first quarter of 2013.
Prices are up 31 percent in the Park Cities and rose 25 percent in Cedar Hill and 22 percent in Oak Cliff from a year ago.
Annual home price increases in North Texas are typically less than 5 percent.
Skelton, who appraises houses all over North Texas, said the last time he saw similar home price jumps in this area was in the 1980s boom.
“This market is going up faster than that market went up,” Skelton said.
Unlike in some “bubble” markets, the gains in home prices in the Dallas area are being fueled by the area’s strong economy and demographics, said Dr. Ted Jones, economist with Houston-based Stewart Title Co.
“In the last 12 months, the D-FW market added more than 86,000 new jobs,” Jones said. “In that same period, new building permits totaled 39,620.
“There is massive growth and demand — all job driven — for the D-FW area.”
And Jones said home builders who were hard hit during the recession can’t respond fast enough to the rising housing demand.
“We are under-building this market by more than 40 percent,” he said. “Housing demand is outpacing supply, and as long as that continues, values will rise.”
For the next year or even longer, Jones doesn’t expect the housing shortage in North Texas to significantly abate.
The flow of large numbers of migrants to this area from other parts of the country is adding to the strain on the residential market.
“You have thousands of people showing up with no place to live,” Jones said.
“As long as we continue to under-build this housing market, we are going to continue to see prices rise.”