By STEVE BROWN
Real Estate Editor
Published: 18 October 2012 08:32 PM
Nagging worries about the economy and tougher lending standards have continued to pester the home market this year. But in many Dallas-area neighborhoods, what’s really slowing home purchases is a lack of choices.
The inventory of pre-owned homes on the market in North Texas has dropped almost 40 percent in the last two years.
And in some districts, the supply of homes available to purchase is at the lowest level in more than a decade, statistics from real estate agents’ multiple listing services show.
With pre-owned home sales up 15 percent across North Texas in the first nine months of 2012 and prices rising again, demand has outstripped supply in many neighborhoods where inventory is still falling, statistics from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University show.
In September, there was an overall 4.5-month supply of pre-owned homes listed for sale with Realtors. That’s well below the six-month inventory that the industry considers to be a balanced market.
In some areas, the supply is even tighter — including Grapevine, which has only a 2.4-month inventory; Allen, with 2.3 months; and Frisco, with 2.8 months’ supply.
Rich Thomas, chief executive of the MetroTexas Association of Realtors, said homebuyers are often surprised to find that the local market has changed in the last year.
“Buyers are somewhat disappointed that there are not deals waiting for them on every street,” Thomas said. “They haven’t realized that prices have firmed up and sellers that have well-kept, very appealing homes to sell are asking solid market prices and not negotiating very far off the price.”
He expects that the market in North Texas will get even tighter in the last months of the year because of the seasonal decline in listings.
“Unfortunately, this will further depress our inventory at a time when there are a good number of buyers,” Thomas said.
Real estate agents and sellers say it’s not uncommon to get offers on a property the day it goes on the market.
“I have two clients right now looking, and we have absolutely scoured the market, and what they need is not for sale,” said agent Mary Poss of Ebby Halliday Realtors. “In a normal market, they’d have plenty to choose from.
“But they are not available — we sold them all.”
Maybe not all of them. There are still more than 14,000 pre-owned single-family homes listed for sale in the Dallas area. But the total inventory of homes is about 30 percent lower this October than a year ago.
Scott Schueler, an agent with Keller Williams Realty, said some sellers are holding off putting their houses on the market because it’s late in the season.
“A lot of people think they would have a lesser chance of selling in the winter months,” Schueler said. “But inventory is so low that if they put their house on market now and the price is right, they could get multiple offers.
“We get a lot of tire kickers in the summer, but the people looking now want to do something quick,” he said.
Local real estate agents are hoping that 2013 brings more homes to the market.
“I’m hopeful that after the first of the year we will see the numbers go up like we normally do,” said Jeff Updike, who specializes in urban townhouses and condominiums. “This is the last phase of getting us back to a more normal market.
“I’m positive we will have a more normal year next year.”