North Texas is on track to sell more than 100,000 preowned houses this year — the greatest number ever.
But not all neighborhoods are going to see higher purchases in 2016.
Home sales are surging in more affordable communities such as Lancaster, DeSoto, Mesquite and Cedar Hill.
But there are slight declines in some higher-priced neighborhoods and Collin County cities that have seen strong sales over the past few years, a look at the first nine months of housing activity shows.
“Anything that’s above $350,000 and $400,000 has really cooled off,” said Michael Scafuro, a sales agent with Re/Max Town Country in Allen. “In the lower price ranges, anything up to $300,000 is flying off the market.
“We are getting the first-time buyers and the people buying the next step up,” he said. “They are jumping from a $150,000 house to a $250,000 to $300,000 house.”
Scafuro said homeowners who bought a few years ago have built up strong equity.
“They have made money and can afford to move up with the interest rates so low,” he said.
Home sales are up by more than 30 percent this year in Lancaster and are almost 20 percent higher in DeSoto for the first nine months of the year. In The Colony, sales are up 14 percent.
Overall, North Texas home sales rose 6 percent through the third quarter, according to data from the Real Estate Center at Texas AM University and the North Texas Real Estate Information Systems.
But sales were down in more expensive neighborhoods, including Far North Dallas (-10 percent), Southlake (-9 percent) and the Park Cities (-2 percent).
Real estate agent Allie Beth Allman — who sold two of Dallas’ most expensive homes early this year — said sales of multimillion-dollar properties have dropped in recent months.
“The high-end market has definitely slowed a lot, and there is a lot of inventory on the market,” Allman said. “Lots of people are looking. They are just not ready to do anything — they don’t feel an urgency.”
Prices have continued to rise in all but a handful of the 45 residential districts The Dallas Morning News tracks each quarter. The biggest price gains this year have been in more modest-priced neighborhoods.
Median home prices are 21 percent higher this year in southeast Dallas, rose 18 percent in The Colony and are 16 percent higher in Oak Cliff than they were in the first nine months of 2015.
“Strong demand for lower-priced homes and slower demand for high-priced homes is a trend that is happening in many cities,” said longtime Texas economist Mark Dotzour. “There has been a significant increase in buyer demand in modest price ranges.
“Buyer psychology has improved dramatically, and people want to own a home again — especially when prices increase as we have seen in recent years,” Dotzour said. “It’s finally getting easier to get 97 percent loans to buy houses and this will cause demand in the lower price ranges to get even stronger in coming years.”
Dotzour said more affluent homebuyers may be worried about fluctuations in the securities market or higher interest rates promised by the Federal Reserve.
Politics may also be playing a role.
“The presidential election cycle always causes confusion and uncertainty about future tax policies and economic policies,” Dotzour said. “It’s common for investors and business owners to ‘take a pause’ from August before the election until April after the election.
“By the end of April, most of the political uncertainty is clarified and people re-engage in all kinds of decisions, including buying an expensive home.”
That would be just in time for next spring’s traditional home buying market.
Randall Guttery, real estate programs director at the University of Texas at Dallas, said political and economic uncertainty might be causing some buyers of high-priced homes to hit the pause button.
But younger consumers are still in the market.
“Millennials are the largest sector of homebuyers now,” Guttery said. “So this increased demand from first- and second-time homebuyers is forcing upward pressure on prices.”
Agents who sell houses priced below $300,000 say they still see strong demand.
“We can’t keep a listing,” said Alicia Trevino, who sells houses in Mesquite, Garland and northeast Dallas. “In the last 24 months, the houses in some neighborhoods have appreciated 100 percent.
“I was selling homes for $120,000 and $125,000 two or three years ago that are now selling for $250,000.”
At those price ranges, Trevino said, homes are being snapped up by both first-time buyers and property investors.
“If you list it correctly, you’ll have multiple offers in 24 hours,” she said.