Sales of pre-owned homes in North Texas rose 10 percent in October from a year earlier. It was the smallest year-over-year gain in area home sales since December 2012.

While home purchases were still up last month, they grew at only a third the rate of increase back in April. The latest numbers give more proof that while the local housing market is still improving, the runaway growth that occurred this spring and summer is moderating.

“The market is still good to strong, just not crazy strong like this past season,” said Dr. James Gaines, an economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. “We expect a seasonal adjustment in fall and winter.”

Real estate agents sold 7,014 pre-owned single-family homes in October, according to data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University and the North Texas Real Estate Information Systems. It was the 26th month in a row that area home sales were higher than the previous year. Median prices in North Texas in October rose 13 percent from a year ago.

Through the first 10 months of 2013, pre-owned home sales are 19 percent ahead of where they were in the same period land year. And median home prices are up 10 percent from the first 10 months of 2012, according to sales through the MLS. With higher mortgage rates and recent strong sales, housing economists are forecasting an easing in the pace of residential sales and price increases in the year ahead.

“Normally sales begin to slow in September once school is back in session,” said David Brown who heads the Dallas office of housing analyst Metrostudy Inc. “This year the market is experiencing a more normal seasonal slowdown.” Brown said the smaller home sales gains are to be expected. “A 20 percent to 30 percent year-over-year gain is unsustainable,” he said. “The frenzy that started in the fourth quarter of last year and ran through the first half of this year is beginning to ease. “It isn’t that the market is slowing down, because sales are still up.” Low inventories of homes for sale are still an issue.

In October, there were 22,656 homes listed for sale with Realtors in the roughly 50 counties included in the monthly survey. That’s 13 percent fewer houses on the market at this time last year. Currently there is only a 3.1-month supply of houses for sale in North Texas — the lowest inventory in more than a decade.

“Another factor that could be affecting the number of sales is the inventory is so low and likely to fall further,” Brown said. “We could see inventory fall below 20,000 by the end of the year.” Housing analysts will be watching closely to see how the market behaves early next year when sales traditionally begin to pick up. “The real test will come again in the spring,” Gaines said. “If we get 20 percent-plus growth in April, May and June of next year over the highs posted this past spring, then we’ll be seeing some really outstanding — and probably unsustainable — growth.”

Source: Dallas Morning News