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Buyers in the market for a North Texas home this summer will find a couple of thousand more properties to pick from.
The bad news is that most of them are not the low and moderate-priced houses that younger and first-time buyers are hunting.
At the end of June, almost 22,000 North Texas single-family homes were listed for sale with real estate agents. That’s the largest inventory of houses on the market in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in almost four years.
But a close look at the increase in property listings shows that almost all of the new inventory is homes priced at more than $300,000.
The number of North Texas houses that are on the market for less than $250,000 has dropped by almost 700 listings from a year ago, according to data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University and the North Texas Real Estate Information Systems.
Real estate agents say that the inventory of high-end houses up for grabs in the D-FW area is definitely moving up and that it is taking longer to sell higher-priced properties.
“The market is not a frothy as it was a year or two ago,” said Barry Hoffer of Ebby Halliday Realtors. “The market has slowed in the upper price ranges, certainly north of LBJ Freeway.
“It’s taking longer to move the homes,” Hoffer said. “But there are still plenty of buyers out there.”
Sales in the first half of 2017 are up about 2 percent from the same period last year in the 45 Dallas-area residential districts that The Dallas Morning News tracks each quarter.
The biggest year-over-year sales increases are in neighborhoods in Wylie, Duncanville, the Park Cities and North Dallas. Sales were higher in more than two thirds of the residential districts The News compares.
Some of the largest annual price increases were in moderate-value neighborhoods in Southeast Dallas, Duncanville and Mesquite. Prices rose by double-digit percentage rates in almost half of the Dallas area.
Less than a handful of residential districts saw price declines.
North Texas median home prices are at record levels and have risen by more than 50 percent in the last five years.
But Hoffer said he’s seeing signs that the surge in higher prices may moderate in some neighborhoods.
“The list of homes with price reductions is now pages long,” he said. “Before, you didn’t see owners needing to make reductions because homes were being snapped up. Now they are sometimes sitting a little longer and they are doing some mark downs.”
Early signs of a softening at the pricey part of the Dallas-area home market aren’t surprising, analysts say.
“Certainly it’s typical for the high end of the market to show the first signs of weakness in an up real estate cycle as that high end represents the least affordable slice of the market with the smallest pool of potential buyers,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president with Attom Data Solutions. “This softening at the high end does support the notion that the Dallas market is in for at least a cooling if not a correction in the next few years.
“There’s no doubt this upward cycle is getting long in the tooth and we’re starting to see fissures in the foundation of this boom when it comes to affordability,” Blomquist said.
He said the rate of growth for Dallas-area homes prices over $300,000 has fallen to just under 1 percent compared to a year ago. But appreciation for houses priced under $300,000 is still close to 8 percent in the Dallas area.
While home inventories in overall North Texas market remain tight — with less than a 2.5-month supply in June — the inventory of high-end homes is growing larger.
The supply of houses on the market in North Texas that are priced over $600,000 is more than twice the total market.
“There’s more than a 12-month supply in the over $750,000 market,” said Dr. James Gaines, chief economist with the Real Estate Center at A&M. “We are seeing a small — emphasize small — slowdown in general economy, job growth, etc.
“The slowdown, though, is from very accelerated levels of growth, so still significantly above long-term average,” Gaines said.
If you’re shopping for a house in the low and mid-price ranges, be prepared to move fast, sales agents say.
“Anything under $400,000 is still flying off the market,” said Scott Schueler with Keller Williams. “Inventory is increasing a little bit.
“But we are still seeing buyers jump in with full prices,” he said. “There is no more cheap housing in Dallas-Fort Worth.”