Texas housing market shows improvement

Housing figures in Texas are improving.A report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas (http://www NULL.dallasfed NULL.org/research/indicators/2011/tei1103 NULL.pdf) says that the Texas real estate market showed notable improvements in January, as home sales increased.

The report says that statewide, existing-home sales rose for the second straight month in January, rising 3 percent compared to December.

Home construction numbers also showed positive movement. According to the report, housing permits jumped 4.3 percent from December to January – the fourth straight month in which permits have increased. Also, housing starts rebounded by jumping 7.7 percent during the month after a 7 percent drop-off in December.

At the same time, home prices, according to data from Federal Housing Finance Agency, fell to close out 2010, sliding 1.6 percent during the fourth quarter of 2010, creating more affordable conditions for those looking at Houston properties.

Prices for Houston homes, however, have moved in the opposite direction. According to the Houston Association of Realtors, the average home price in the local market gained 2.2 percent in January, reaching its highest level ever for that month.

Fixed-rate mortgage rates drop below five percent

Mortgage rates have declined again.Thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped this week, going below 5 percent, which is encouraging news for the Houston real estate market, since more people are likely to apply for mortgages and purchase homes.

According to the Freddie Mac's (http://www NULL.freddiemac NULL.com/pmms/release NULL.html?week=8&year=2011) latest weekly survey, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages are averaging 4.95 percent. Last week, the rate was at 5 percent, and a year ago, it was 5.05 percent. The report stated that the Southwest's current FRM is 4.98 percent, which is slightly higher, but could be a welcome sign to prospective buyers of Houston real estate.

"Low mortgage rates and home prices are sustaining affordability in the housing market. Existing home sales rose for the third consecutive month in January and were at the strongest pace in eight months," Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist for Freddie Mac said, citing a National Association of Realtors report.

According to that report, the Northeast was the only region of the country that sustained a sales decrease during the month of January, as overall sales topped their year-ago levels.

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