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Houston Home Auctions Slowing Down, Pushing up Prices

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By : John Cutts    99 or more times read
Houston home auctions have been slowing down in Houston, pushing up prices, based on sales data from real estate firms.

In January this year, the median house sales price in Houston rose by 10 percent to $143,500, according to a report released by Associated Press and Re/Max. Total sales of higher-priced homes also increased. According to Texas realtor Danny Frank, sales for homes priced $500,000 and above increased by 40 percent from total sales in January 2009.

The pace of pre foreclosures in Houston also slowed down in 2009. In the metro area that includes Houston, Baytown and Sugar Land, foreclosure postings dropped by 11.4 percent year-over-year. The pace, however, was still higher than postings in 2007 and still involved more than 28,300 households. Despite efforts of homeowners to save their properties through loan modifications, a large percentage of these delinquent units eventually enter listings of foreclosed homes in Houston.

Nevertheless, the economy of Houston has been far steadier than other urban economies because of its vibrant energy sector. A total of 2,700 jobs were added in December last year, marking the fourth straight month of job gains, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

There were also fewer Houston residents who filed unemployment claims in December. Only 22,283 residents made jobless claims, the lowest number recorded in 2009, according to Joel Wagher of Workforce Solutions, which handles employment training in the city.

The pace of Houston home auctions is also not as bad as the pace in 110 other large metro areas. In 2009, the city was in the lower half of a ranking of 203 large metropolitan areas based on foreclosure activity.

With its manageable foreclosures, Houston was considered by Wells Fargo and the National Association of Home Builders as among the best cities for families to buy their homes. The NAHB and Wells Fargo determine their housing opportunity index and their list of most affordable housing markets by comparing median house prices and median household incomes and analyzing prospects of recovery from foreclosures and pace of price appreciation.

Nevertheless, Texas A&M University economists are not yet certain about what lies ahead for the Texas housing market. Despite the increase in sales volume and sales prices in Houston and in other cities of Texas, they still worry about the more than 100 distressed properties statewide in 2009 and the more than 28,000 units at risk of entering Houston home auctions during the same year.
John Cutts has been educated in the finer points of the foreclosure market over 5 years.

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