Photo caption: Homes priced around $370,000, like this one pictured above in Katy, represent the average current price of homes in the Houston area. (Photo courtesy of Houston Association of Realtors)

A combination of a lack of inventory for low-priced homes, aggressive shopping among high-end homes and historically low interest rates led to a surge in the sales of single-family homes for the tenth consecutive month, which rose 24.4% in March, according to the latest Houston Association of Realtors (HAR) Market Update.

A total of 9,347 single-family units were sold in March 2021, compared to 7,511 units last year.

Single-family homes priced between $500,000 and $750,000 saw a 96.8% increase in sales year over year, followed by luxury homes priced over $750,000, which saw an 89.9% increase. The surge in high-end home shopping propelled market prices to record highs, with the single-family home average increasing 19.9% to $370,847 and the median price increasing 16% to $290,000. Single-family home rentals fell 17.9% with the average rent up 8.8% to $1,944.

Sales of all property types totaled 11,692, up 31.5% from March 2020. Total dollar volume for the month increased by 55.8% to $4.0 billion, compared with $2.6 billion last year. The time it took to sell a home also decreased from last year, with Days on Market (DOM) falling from 65 to 45 days.

“The inventory shortage is causing stress for many folks. Hopefully, we begin to see an uptick in new listings sooner than later,” said HAR Chairman Richard Miranda in a press release. According to the National Association of Realtors, housing inventory stands at a 2.0-months supply nationally. The HAR area housing inventory is at an all-time low, with only a 1.4-months supply remaining compared to 3.4 months in March of the previous year.

Although the number of new listings is picking up the pace, these listings are still coming in slower than the same month last year by 5.8%. Pending listings continue to grow and are up 61% compared to last year when the pandemic-related lockdown caused a temporary halt on the market. A total of 11,182 single-family home listings went under contract versus 6,942 in March of 2020.

Inventory continues to shrink as sales continue to remain strong. The number of active listings of available single-family properties is 51.8% lower than this time last year, with 11,988 active MLS listings in March compared to 24,896 in March 2020. Total active listings for all property types showed a drop of 43%, from 39,777 (March 2020) to 22,602 (March 2021).

Townhome and condominium sales rose 45.2% with the average price up 7.6% to $242,063 and the median price up 5.3% to $195,000. Townhome and condominium leases rose 5.7% with the average rent up 6.8% to $1,720.

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